For the City Times
Rafters turn to the long ball to win eighth straight
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – All nine Rafters starters recorded a hit to propel the team to their eighth straight victory, in a 10-4 win over the Kalamazoo Growlers. Nic Motley led the way for Wisconsin Rapids, with a 3-4 performance, including a home run and two runs batted in. The Rafters remain atop the South Division with the win tonight, and a 10-1 record stands as best start in franchise history.
The Rafters took to the long ball to get things started on Mustache Night at Witter Field, with MLB Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers in attendance. Dustin Woodcock opened up the scoring with a solo home run in the 1st. Woodcock’s first of the year came on a 3-1 pitch that the left-hander blasted over the scoreboard in right-centerfield. In the 2nd, new arrival to the team Motley made the most of his first swing of the year, sending a ball over the fence in left. The bomb scored Josh Rehwaldt and gave the home side a 3-0 lead.
The two teams traded four-run innings in the middle of the game. The Rafters tacked their four on the board in the third, including RBIs from Bryson Stott, Ryan Stekl and Jake Guenther. The Growlers broke the shutout in the 5th inning, utilizing an RBI double from Andrew Huff and solo round-tripper by Ryan Merenger. The visitors from Kalamazoo closed the gap, 7-4, after five and a half innings played.
It did not take long for the Rafters to answer, going back to the long ball in the bottom half of the 5th. Josh Rehwaldt led off the inning with a frozen-rope home run over the right field fence, good for his first of the season. Scott Kapers joined the home-run party with his own no-doubter to left, scoring Guenther and extending the lead to 10-4.
The Rafters tacked on one more run in the 8th and TJ Fetters finished the Growlers 1-2-3 in the 9th, completing four complete innings of scoreless relief baseball to secure the 11-4 victory and move to 10-1 on the season. JP Stevenson earned the win, tossing five innings and allowing four runs. Zach Vitkuske was tagged with the loss for the Growlers who fall to 4-7 on the year.
The Growlers will stay in town for a rematch tomorrow night with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, with first pitch set for 6:05 p.m.Following the game will be a Postgame Firework Show, presented by Budweiser.