The Waterloo Bucks are no longer in the driver's seat to clinch the Northwoods League's North Division first-half championship and playoff spot that goes with it, but they still have chance to claim both.

La Crosse (14-19) dealt the Bucks a critical loss in their playoff pursuit, coming from behind to edge Waterloo, 5-4, Monday night (July 3, 2017). The setback drops the Bucks (23-12) one game behind division front-runner St. Cloud, which won at Duluth 8-2. The first half-season ends with Tuesday's games.

For Waterloo to win the title, two things must work in its favor: St. Cloud must lose its afternoon game at Duluth and the Bucks must win their evening home game against La Crosse. Under that scenario, Waterloo and St. Cloud would end the half-season in a first-place tie. The Bucks, however, would earn the playoff berth because they own the tie-breaker over the Rox.

At La Crosse Monday night, the Bucks jumped on the Loggers early with a four-run third inning. Deion Thompson scored on Dalton Hurd's single to right field, and later Zach Malis crossed the plate on Joe Genord's base hit. In between the two hits, Waterloo scored two runs on a pair of La Crosse errors.

The Loggers started their comeback in the bottom of the third, scoring their first run on a bases-loaded walk. La Crosse narrowed the deficit to 4-3 one inning later, scoring a pair of runs on back-to-back doubles. The big blow for the Bucks came in the sixth inning, when Cameron Cannon blasted a two-run home run over Copeland Park's left field wall to give the Loggers a 5-4 advantage.

Waterloo had its changes to pull out the victory, but failed to take advantage of some opportunities. The Bucks left the bases loaded in the fourth and eighth innings and also had the game-tying run on base in the ninth, when a double play ended the game.

UP NEXT: The Bucks finish their home-and-home series with La Crosse at 6:35 p.m. on Tuesday (July 4), when they host the Loggers at Riverfront Stadium.

Story Contributor: Danny Frey - Waterloo Bucks

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