By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (47-21, 23-9) matched a franchise record on Thursday night with their eighth consecutive victory, a 9-2 rout of the Kalamazoo Growlers (32-37, 12-21) at Witter Field. A six-run first inning and a strong pitching performance from Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC) paced the Rafters over the Growlers in front of a sizable crowd.
The Rafters wasted no time in opening the night’s scoring, sending 12 men to the plate and tagging starter Jay Smith for six runs in the bottom of the first. After a one-out single by Richie Palacios (Towson) and Jake Lumley (Canisius) was hit by a pitch, catcher Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) singled to bring home the first run of the ballgame. Following a Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) walk, designated hitter Joe Wainhouse (Washington) laced a single to center field to score a pair of runs and widen the lead t o 3-0. The Rafters were far from finished, however, as an RBI single from Brett Thompson (Hope International) and a sacrifice fly by Max Widmar (Iowa Central) pushed the Rafters to a 5-0 advantage. A pair of walks proceeded to load the bases for Richie Palacios, who singled home the sixth run of the inning in his second plate appearance of the frame.
The scoring output slowed considerably after the Rafters’ potent first inning. Wainhouse re-asserted himself with a solo home run in the second, his eighth blast of the season, and Calabrese widened the score to 8-0 with a run-scoring single in the third inning. A solo home run from Michael Crowley in the top of the fifth inning temporarily narrowed the Rafters’ lead to eight runs, but Brett Thompson’s first home run of the season in the sixth inning widened the margin to 9-1.
Starting pitcher Gareth Stroh exited the game after the sixth inning, having dominated the Growler lineup throughout the evening. With the exception of Crowley’s solo home run in the fifth, Stroh dominated throughout the night en route to earning his fifth win of the campaign. In six innings of work, Stroh racked up a staff-high nine strikeouts, while scattering just seven hits and a walk. Following the left-hander’s exit, the Rafters bullpen finished out the last three innings of the contest, with three arms combining to allow just two hits and a walk, while striking out four.
The Rafters will resume action in quest of their ninth consecutive win on Friday with first pitch against the Growlers set for 7:05 PM and gates opening at 6:05 PM.
For more information please visit raftersbaseball.com