The Milkmen Have Another Shot at a Championship

The team faces off against the RedHawks tonight.

The Milwaukee Milkmen have a chance at winning their second American Association championship in three seasons.

The Milkmen, in just their fourth year of existence, will take on the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in a winner-take-all game for the league title on Thursday night at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo, North Dakota.

After splitting the first two games of the best-of-five series last weekend at Franklin Field, the home ballpark of the Milkmen, the series shifted to Fargo. The RedHawks won 7-2 on Tuesday, putting the Milkmen in a must-win situation on Wednesday night in the battle for the Miles Wolff Cup.

Milwaukee turned out to be up to the task, hanging on for a 3-0 win behind a stellar outing from starting pitcher Christian Young to force a fifth and deciding game. Young pitched five shutout innings, giving up just two hits while striking out seven batters and walking just two. Reliever Frankie Bartow added three scoreless innings before turning it over to Rodrigo Benoit, who spent seven years in the Milwaukee Brewers’ farm system, to close out the game and secure the win.

 

The Milkmen grabbed the lead on Miguel Gomez’s run-scoring single in the third. Milwaukee plated another run in the fifth on a RedHawks’ error and pushed across another on Carl Chester’s base hit in the sixth. 

The Milkmen captured their first American Association crown in 2020 when they completed a magical one-season turnaround by defeating the Sioux Falls Canaries four games to one. The title came after a shortened season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and with only six of the league’s 12 teams opting to compete.

The unprecedented championship under the direction of first-year manager Anthony Barone and owner Mike Zimmerman came one year after the Milkmen finished in last place in their division in their inaugural season with a 38-62 record. 

The Milkmen qualified for the playoffs in 2021 as a wild-card team but lost to Fargo-Moorhead.

Milwaukee Milkmen; Photo courtesy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

After an up and down regular season this year, the Milkmen began their quest for another title after a third-place finish in the American Association’s East Division with a 53-47 record.

The Milkmen roster featured Bryan Torres, who led the league with a .374 average, and slugging first baseman and designated hitter Keon Barnum, who hit 24 home runs and drove in 84 runs during the regular season.

Milwaukee qualified for the playoffs under an expanded post-season format and faced the Chicago Dogs, who had the East Division’s best regular-season record, in the first round. The underdog Milkmen defeated the Dogs two games to one to move to the East Division Championship Series against the Cleburne Railroaders.

Milwaukee swept the Railroaders in the best-of-three series, earning a spot in the Miles Wolff Cup Finals with a series-clinching win at Franklin Field.

Milwaukee Milkmen; Photo courtesy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

The RedHawks finished with the league’s second-best record during the regular season, one game behind West Division rival Kansas City Monarchs, who finished 65-35.

Fargo-Moorhead knocked off the Kansas City in the West Division Championship Series two games to one after a tense battle between the two highly talented teams. The RedHawks are trying to capture their first league championship since 2010 and first since joining the American Association in 2011. They are playing without one of their stars, John Silviano, who fractured his lower leg in the second inning of Game 2 on Sunday but remained in the game and collected two more hits before the injury forced him to eventually leave the contest.

First pitch on Thursday night is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.


More Photos

Milwaukee Milkmen; Photo courtesy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks
Milwaukee Milkmen; Photo courtesy of the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.