By Cooper Perkins
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – After taking both games of a twin bill yesterday, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (19-8) won the third and final game of the series against the Wisconsin Woodchucks (13-14) with a final score of 7-6.
Tonight’s game paid homage to the Wisconsin Rapids Twins who once played at Witter Field with throwback uniforms and hats. Patience at the plate and a quality start on the mound propelled the Rats in the win.
Rafters’ starter Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC) turned in an effective start in six innings of one run ball, allowing just seven hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Stroh received enough run support to earn his second win on the season and snap a recent streak of troublesome outings.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first, a wild pitch from Woodchuck starter Connor Hock allowed the first run of the game to cross the plate. Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) plated a second run with an infield single to give the Rats an early 2-0 lead. The scoring continued, as Joe Wainhouse (Washington) collected his first run batted in of the season with a single to extend the Rafter lead to 3-0 after the first inning. Adding to the ‘Chucks woes, starter Connor Hock’s laborious first inning resulted in a pitch count exceeding 35, rendering him ineligible to return to the game per Northwoods League rules.
After Demetrius Sims (Bethune Cookman) led off the second inning with a double, he stole third base and eventually came across to score on a sacrifice fly from Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky), pushing the lead to 4-0. Wisconsin’s Chad Fleischman ended Stroh’s shutout bid with a solo home run to open the fourth inning and cut into the Woodchuck deficit. The long ball was Fleischman’s second in as many days and made it a 4-1 game. Shortly after the ‘Chucks home run, the Rafters answered with back-to-back blasts of their own from the Wainhouse and Scott Kapers (Valparaiso). Wainhouse’s smash was of the two-run variety and Kapers’ was a solo bomb that grew the Rafter lead to 7-1 after five innings.
Jacson McGowan (Purdue) entered the game in relief of Sroth and battled his command of the strike zone in route to being charged with five runs (three earned) and walking a trio.. A three-run hom erun from Steve Passatempo in the seventh inning cut the Rafter lead to 7-4, followed by an Austin Blakely RBI infield single that narrowed the margin to just two runs. Finally, a Blair Lakso (Buffalo) wild pitch brought home the fifth run of the inning and inched the game to a 7-6 score.
With a one-run lead, the Rafters turned to closer Garrett Schilling (Xavier) to finish the game and collect his league-best ninth save of the season. After hitting lead off hitter Mac Caples, Schilling proceeded to induce a double play and fashion a strikeout of Jonathan Foster to seal the victory.
On Wednesday, the Rafters travel to Carson Park in Eau Claire for a double header. First pitch of game one is set for 1:05 p.m., while the second game is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
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