By Cooper Perkins
Mequon, WI – In the midst of a six-game road trip, the first-place Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (16-8) utilized excellent pitching to best the Lakeshore Chinooks (10-17) by a score of 3-2 on Saturday night. The win marks the fifth consecutive victory for the Rafters and their eighth in the last nine games, holding their lead on the South Division at 1 1/2 games.
After a two-week absence from the Rafters, right-hander Enrique Zamora (Calumet College of St. Joseph) took the ball for the Rafters in their series-opener in Mequon. Zamora’s evening started slowly in the bottom of the first inning, as Zac Taylor doubled of the left field wall, Tim Dalporto singled, and Matt Johnson drew a walk to load the bases. With one out, Darius Sewell bounced a high chopper to shortstop Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman), who attempted to start a double play. After cutting down Johnson at second base, Jake Lumley’s (Canisius) turn to first was late, allowing the run to score and spotting the Chinooks an early 1-0 lead.
In the ensuing frame, the Rafters mounted a response. Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) led off the inning with a double and Logan Mattix (Georgia College) followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no outs. On the first pitch following Mattix’s single, Jacson McGowan (Purdue) chopped a high bouncer over third base that tucked just inside the chalk and rolled for a two-run double, spotting the Rafters a 2-1 lead.
For the next four innings, the teams traded scoreless frames, entering the top of the seventh with the score holding steady at 2-1. With two out in the inning, Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) singled his way aboard before Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) walked to put runners on first and second. Woodcock then poked a single into left field, plating Fisher from second base and extending the Rafter lead to 3-1 after the top of the seventh.
The insurance provided to the Rafters would prove to be particularly valuable in the bottom of the eighth inning when Damian Richard (Xavier) was tagged for a solo home run by Matt Johnson to cut the lead to 3-2. Despite spotting runners on first and second in the top of the ninth inning, the Rafters would not be able to score and entered the bottom of the ninth at Kapco Park leading by a run.
Three outs away from securing the victory, Garrett Schilling (Xavier) came on from the bullpen seeking his league-best eighth save of the summer. Schilling fired a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to end the ballgame and lifted the Rafters to their eighth win in nine games.
In the victory, Zamora pitched six innings to earn his first win, striking out five and allowing just one run. At the plate, Woodcock finished 3-for-5 with a run batted in and Sims (2-for-3) extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
The Rafters will look to sweep the Lakeshore Chinooks Sunday evening in Mequon, as first pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. at Kapco Park. Coverage of the game on WFHR 1320 AM will begin at 4:50 p.m.
For more information, please visit raftersbaseball.com