By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
The first playoff game in franchise history offered Rafter fans a record-breaking performance en route to a 19-3 victory. The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (50-23) bolted out of the starting blocks to score a franchise-record nine runs in the first inning and proceeded to pile up a franchise-record 19 runs by night’s end.
Following a scoreless opening frame from Chris Cooper (Texas A&M Corpus Christi), the Rafters wasted little time to open the scoring, as Joe Wainhouse (Washington) drilled a two-run single in the first inning. Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) followed with a run-scoring single of his own, and Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills) pulled off a successful safety squeeze to score a run and set the stage for Andrew Turner (LIU-Brooklyn) to bat with the bases loaded. Already leading 4-0, Turner mashed a grand slam to left field, his first home run of the season and blew the game open to the tune of an 8-0 lead with just two outs in the first inning. Wainhouse added a second RBI single later in the inning and the Rafters finished the first frame already in front 9-0. The nine-run frame was the most explosive inning in franchise history, as it surpassed the previous record of eight runs in a single frame.
After knocking Lakeshore starter Cole Gnetz from the game in the first, the Rafters’ lineup resumed their scoring parade in the bottom of the second frame against the Chinook bullpen. After Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Richie Palacios (Towson) singled home a pair of runs, Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) swatted his second home run of the season, a three-run blast to left-center field. Following the second inning’s close, the Rafters led 15-0 and would cruise the rest of the way.
Palacios added a sacrifice fly in the third inning and then drove in his third run of the game with a fifth-inning single. Later in the fifth frame, Calabrese singled home his fourth RBI of the season and Wainhouse drove in the nineteenth tally of the game on a fielder’s choice to break the franchise record for runs in a game.
On the mound, the Rafters combined three scoreless innings from Cooper with six innings of relief in which Reed Stumpf (Dubuque), Alex Varaksa (Lackawanna CC), and Joe Wainhouse limited the Chinooks to just three runs on four hits and three walks. Stumpf earned the victory and the Rafters enjoyed a final margin of 19-3.
The Rafters will return to action on Tuesday night, as they welcome the Battle Creek Bombers to Witter Field for a 7:05 first pitch. Gates will open to the general public at 6:05 PM.
For more information please visit rafersbaseball.com