By Cooper Perkins Special to the City Times
A back-and-forth game on Monday night ended in record-breaking fashion, as the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (28-14, 4-2) surged to defeat the Kenosha Kingfish (18-24, 2-4) by a final score of 8-5. The Rafters used an excellent performance from their bullpen and an offensive outburst to pull away the Kingfish and earn a series split.
The Rafters opened the scoring at the top of the ballgame after Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) reached base on an error and stole second base to put himself in scoring position. With one out, a single from Patrick Cromwell (Clemson) pushed Sims across home plate and offered the Rafters an early 1-0 lead. The Rafters continued to threaten in the inning, but left the bases loaded after Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) struck out on a 3-2 pitch.
After a scoreless bottom of the first inning from the Kingfish, the Rafters proceeded to load the bases in the second inning, only to strand them full for the second consecutive inning. In the bottom half of the second, the Kingfish finally broke through against Rafter starting pitcher Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC), as they used five hits and batted around to score four runs and take a 4-1 lead.
With one out and a man on base in the top of the third, the Kingfish opted to remove Rapshus and turned to left-hander Ty Harris out of the bullpen to face Woodcock. The outfielder greeted Harris by turning on a 2-2 pitch and clearing the right field fence for his fifth long ball of the season, closing the score to 4-3. One inning later in the top of the fourth, the Rafters received a leadoff double from Sims and a run-scoring single from Jake Lumley (Canisius) to tie the game. Several batters later, designated hitter Jacson McGowan (Purdue) handed the Rafters their second lead of the ballgame on a run-scoring groundout to second base.
On the mound, Stroh finished 4 2/3 innings and surrendered four runs (three earned) on eight hits, a walk, and three strikeouts, but was lifted in favor of John Jaeger (Sterling College) with two outs in the fifth and the tying run on third base. Once into the game, Jaeger struck out Sawyer Gieseke to strand the runner and maintain the Rafter lead. The lineup would add a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth inning on a sacrifice fly from Jon Meola (Virginia) and a second run-scoring single from Patrick Cromwell to push the lead to 7-4.
The Kingfish would offer resistance in the bottom half of the eighth, as a sinking line drive to left field by Dylan Rosa skipped around a charging Dustin Woodcock to plate a run and narrow the score to 7-5. The Rafters, however, would respond in the top of the ninth on a Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) RBI single to widen the lead back to three runs.
Finally in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Rafters handed the ball to Garrett Schilling (Xavier) to close the game and secure a series split. With a perfect inning and a pair of strikeouts, the right-hander recorded his twelfth save of the season, setting a new franchise single-season record and surpassing former record-holder J.P. Feyereisen (11) for the top spot on the list. The victory was Jaeger’s fourth of the season and pushed his record to an unblemished 4-0.
The Rafters will return to action on Tuesday night in Green Bay, rounding out their five-game road trip with a 7:05 PM first pitch against the Green Bay Bullfrogs at Joannes Stadium.
For more information please visit raftersbaseball.com