By Cooper Perkins
Rockford, IL – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (14-8) claimed an early lead Thursday night that they would not relinquish, riding another strong pitching performance to their sixth victory in seven games. In their first visit to Rockford, the Rafters cruised to a 6-1 win over the Rockford Rivets (11-11).
In the top of the third inning, the Rafters manufactured a rally with back-to-back one-out hits, a single from Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) and a double from Patrick Cromwell (Clemson). One batter later, first blood was stricken after Jake Lumley (Canisius) plated Sims from third on a sacrifice fly to center field. Three innings later in the top of the sixth, the Rafters widened their lead to 3-0 after a wild pitch and a passed ball allowed Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) and Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) to score.
The night would be far from finished for Fisher, who plated the final three Rafter runs on a bases loaded double in the sixth, to push the score to 6-0. At the evening’s conclusion, Fisher boasted an impressive five-for-five line, joining Evan Laude and Michael Jurgella as the only players in Rafter history to accumulate five hits in a single game. Wednesday night was the first instance of a five-hit game since 2013.
With right-handed tosser Chris Cooper (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) toeing the rubber for the Rafters against their light-hitting hosts, baserunners proved to be sparse for the Rivets throughout Cooper’s six innings. Cooper, who retired the final 10 batters he faced, surrendered just three hits and two walks, while striking out four. The outing secured Cooper’s fourth victory in as many starts, lowering his ERA to a razor-sharp 0.38 in 24 innings on the bump.
After Cooper’s exit, Damien Richard (Xavier) and Blair Lakso (Buffalo) combined to finish the final three innings, allowing a single run on three hits, striking out four and walking one.
With the win, the Rafters took over sole possession of first place in the South Division and moved to a season-best six games above .500. They will return to action Friday night in Rockford for the second half of their two-game set with the Rivets. Fist pitch will be at 6:35 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on WFHR 1320 AM with coverage beginning at 6:20 p.m.
For more information, please visit raftersbaseball.com