By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
For the second consecutive evening, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (30-16, 6-4) used a seventh-inning rally to surge ahead of the Battle Creek Bombers (22-24, 4-6). A combination of strong pitching and timely hitting lifted the Rafters to a 4-3 win and a two-game sweep of their visitors from Battle Creek.
Following an uneventful first inning, the Bombers staged a second-inning rally against Rafter starter Cal Giese (St. Cloud State) courtesy of a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third with two outs. Catcher Jacob Blunt proceeded to roll the ball back up the middle for a two-run single, offering the Bombers the first runs of the ballgame and a 2-0 lead.
After a trio of scoreless innings, the Rafters finally broke through against Bomber starter Scott Selcy in the bottom of the fourth inning, plating a run on a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Joey Morgan (Washington). In the ensuing inning, Jake Lumley (Canisius) would offer further help to Giese in the form of a solo home run to right field, his third long ball of the season. Additionally, with a walk in the first inning, Lumley succeeded in extending his on-base streak to 30 games.
Giese, who had thrown just 75 pitches through the game’s first six innings, returned to the mound for the bottom of the seventh, but was greeted with an unfriendly welcome. Center fielder Dean Miller proceeded to drive Giese’s 1-2 pitch over the left field wall to break the tie and offer the Bombers a 3-2 lead. Giese responded by inducing a pop fly from Nick Podkul before surrendering a one-out double off the right field fence by Jacob Blunt. Giese would not face another batter, as he was lifted after having finished 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (all earned) on seven hits, while striking out three without a walk.
Blair Lakso (Buffalo) entered from the bullpen in relief of Giese and succeeded in stranding his inherited runner on base, offering the Rafters a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh. Facing reliever Max Ritchie, the Rafters loaded the bases on a trio of walks, setting the table for Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) to bat with two outs. Battle Creek opted to tab their closer Brandon Guske to face Woodcock, but failed to produce their desired result as Woodcock lined a single up the middle to plate two runs and hand the Rafters a 4-3 lead.
Lakso, who eventually received his second win of the year, fired a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts to carry the lead into the ninth inning and offer Garrett Schilling (Xavier) a chance to close out the victory. For the second straight evening, Schilling faced only three hitters to record the save, his league-best fourteenth of the season.
The Rafters return to action Saturday evening in Wausau against the Wisconsin Woodchucks. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM with coverage beginning on WFHR 1320 AM at 6:20 PM.