By Cooper Perkins
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (5-3) returned home to begin a two-game inter-division series against the winless Thunder Bay Border Cats (0-9).
Behind stellar pitching and solid production from their lineup, the Rafters won their third consecutive game and sank the winless Border Cats to a league-worst 0-9 record following the Rats’ 5-0 victory.
Making his second start of the season, left-hander Gareth Stroh dominated the Border Cats throughout his seven scoreless innings, striking out eight, and allowing just three hits and a walk. Stroh needed only 85 pitches to finish his seven-inning masterpiece, in which he retired 17 consecutive Border Cat hitters between the second and seventh innings.
At the plate, the Rafters supplied enough support to earn their eighth win in their last ten home games, as Patrick Cromwell (Santa Ana College) extended his hitting streak to seven games early in the ballgame with a second inning double. Just one batter later, Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) smashed a two-run home run over the right field wall, his first home run of the season, to open the scoring and put the Rafters in front 2-0.
In the fourth inning, Trent McMaster (Coffeyville CC) extended the lead to 3-0 with a line drive RBI single to center field. Despite facing Border Cat starting pitcher Gunnar Kay’s best showing of the season, the Rafters pushed him from the game after six frames, saddled with the loss. Following his exit, shortstop Jake Lumley (Canisus) atoned for an earlier error by drawing a bases loaded walk to force in a run and net his team-leading seventh RBI of the young season.
Finally in the bottom of the eighth, Dustin Woodcock drove an RBI double into the left-center field gap to supply the Rafters with additional insurance and run the score to a final tally of 5-0.
Facing relievers Blair Lakso and Keaton Graf, the Border Cats were unable to rally in either of the final two innings, closing with a Graf strikeout to finish the ballgame and wrap up a dominating victory for the Rafters.
The series will continue tomorrow night as first pitch between the Rafters and Border Cats is slated for 7:05 PM with gates opening at 6:05 PM.
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