By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
In their return home from a four-game road trip, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (43-21, 19-9) used a trio of home runs and excellent bullpen pitching to beat the Kenosha Kingfish (22-43, 6-23) by a final score of 5-3. In the victory, Jay Peters (UW-Milwaukee) picked up his fourth win of the campaign and closer Garrett Schilling (Xavier) earned his league-best seventeenth save.
After an uneventful first inning, both offenses awoke in the second inning, beginning with the Kingfish, who plated a pair of runs in the top half. A run-scoring groundout from Matt Byars and a wild pitch with a man on third combined to offer Kenosha a short-lived 2-0 lead. In the bottom half of the frame, Joey Morgan (Washington) clubbed a one-out solo home run to push the Rafters into the scoring column. After Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) collected his nineteenth double of the season and Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills) drew a walk, outfielder Brett Thompson (Hope International) singled through the right side to bring home the tying run. Not long after, a wild pitch from starter Cole Erickson allowed Thompson to come across, offering the Rafters a 3-2 lead entering the third inning.
Leading off the bottom of the fourth inning, Polizzi drove a 3-2 pitch from Erickson over the left field wall for his first home run of the season, extending the Rafter lead to 4-2. In the ensuing half inning, however, J.D. Hearn collected his first home run of the season as well to pull the Kingfish back within one run. After completing the fifth inning, Jay Peters exited the ballgame and handed the ball to the bullpen, having allowed three runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out four.
Reed Stumpf (Dubuque) and Blair Lakso (Buffalo) combined to keep the Kingfish off the board for the next three innings, striking out three batters and allowing just two base hits. With a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the eighth inning, the Rafters sought to add insurance to their advantage. Joe Wainhouse (Washington), who had struck out three times previously, unloaded for his seventh home run of the season on a towering fly ball to right-center field and widened the game to 5-3. Garrett Schilling then entered in the ninth inning and, despite loading the bases with two outs, secured the victory for the Rafters.
With the win, the Rafters are now 22-8 at Witter Field and have clinched the season series over the Kingfish for the first time in franchise history. The clubs will conclude their two-game series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 4:05 PM and gates opening at 3:05 PM.
For more information please visit raftersbaseball.com.