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No matter how the rest of their season goes, the Waterloo Bucks will be playing for the 2021 Northwoods League championship in August.

The Bucks (19-9) became the first squad to secure a spot in the eight-team playoff field Tuesday night when they clinched the Great Plains East Sub-Division first-half championship while their game was in progress. Before taking the field, the Bucks knew they either had to defeat Bismarck at home or have Mankato beat second-place La Crosse on the road to win the title. As it turned out, both scenarios happened.

The clinching moment for Waterloo came with little fanfare during the second inning of a 15-4 victory at Riverfront Stadium. Just after 7 PM, team officials learned that La Crosse had lost the first game of its doubleheader to Mankato. The setback mathematically eliminated the Loggers from first-half title contention.

In Waterloo, the Bucks' win over the Larks was highlighted by Max Jung-Goldberg's stellar offensive performance that earned him NWL Player of the Night honors. In five trips to the plate, the University of San Diego redshirt sophomore hit two home runs and singled to drive in seven runs. The Bucks' right fielder also scored twice.

Waterloo clinched the first-half title with six games remaining in the first half-season, which ends Tuesday. Coach Ryan Gaynor's team won its season-opener on May 31 and has been at the top of the sub-division standings since that Memorial Day game.

The Bucks return to the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, which includes a year of NWL action without post-season play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Team officials said tickets for Waterloo’s 10th post-season trip will be available at a later date with additional details to come in the next few weeks.

Under a new playoff format that the NWL adopted in 2019, the Bucks will square off against the second-half winner of the Great Plains East Sub-Division in a best-of-three series beginning on Sunday, Aug 15. Home field advantage will be granted to the team with the highest overall winning percentage.

Waterloo Bucks Field Managers

The Waterloo Bucks have had 14 field managers since the franchise was formed in 1995. One of the field managers was an interim, who guided the club for 22 games.

Former Waterloo Bucks Players Now On Major League Baseball Rosters

LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.

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