By Cooper Perkins
Looking to respond after last night’s loss, the Rafters exploded for 10 runs and rode dominant pitching to a shutout victory over the first-place Kalamazoo Growlers on Thursday night. Chris Cooper (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) and Eric Ligda (Millersville) combined to shut out the Growlers and rack up 12 strikeout. The 10-0 victory marked the largest shutout victory in Rafters history.
For the third time in as many starts, Cooper received ample support from his teammates in route to running his record to an unblemished 3-0. A masterful outing by Cooper earned him the victory, as he fired seven innings and allowed no runs on just four hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
After three quiet innings by each lineup, the Rafters broke through in the fourth inning with three runs against Growler starter Tanner Andrews. Joey Morgan (Washington) scored on an error after Patrick Cromwell extended his impressive on-base streak to fifteen games with an infield single. Several batters later, Scott Kapers narrowly missed a grand slam, but instead found himself with an RBI single off the left field wall to stretch the Rafter lead to 2-0. Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) followed Kapers’s with an RBI fielder’s choice that stretched the Rafter lead to three runs.
Several innings later in the bottom of the second, the Rafters pushed back into the scoring column, leveraging a collection of walks and wild pitches into two more runs and a 5-0 lead.
A Kapers run-scoring single extended the Rafter lead to 6-0 before they subsequently added four insurance runs in the eighth inning. Jake Lumley(Canisius) provided a two-run single and Patrick Cromwell (Santa Ana College) and Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) each added an RBI to push the margin to 10-0.
Eric Ligda (Millersville) kept the score at 10-0 for the Rafters with two scoreless innings of work. Despite a pair of two-out errors that allowed a runner to third base, Ligda buckled down to strikeout Dan Robinson and end the game, clinching his sixth strikeout in two innings.
The second meeting between the Rafters and the Growlers is slated for 7:05 p.m., with gates opening at 6:05 p.m., as the Rafters will look to gain more ground in the South Division.
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