By Cooper Perkins
Battle Creek, Mich. – Independence Day offered the Rafters their latest chance to close out the South Division first half title and a spot in the Northwoods League Playoffs, but quiet bats undermined the Rafters’ pursuit against the Battle Creek Bombers. For the second consecutive ballgame, the Rafters (23-12) were held to a single run and fell by a score of 4-1.
Starting pitcher Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC) took the loss for the Rafters, his second of the year, after pitching 5 1/3 innings and surrendering four earned runs on eight hits with a walk and a strikeout. After three scoreless innings to begin the afternoon, Stroh was tagged for the first run of the contest in the third inning courtesy of an RBI single from Ryan Dorow. Stroh would again settle into a rhythm, pitching scoreless fourth and fifth innings before running into trouble in the bottom of the sixth. A one-out, run-scoring single by Nick Podkul, a throwing error from Rafter catcher Scott Kapers (Valparaiso), and a single from Alejandro Gomez would plate three runs in the frame and push the Bomber lead to 4-0.
After back-to-back singles from Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) and Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills) to begin the ballgame, the Rafter bats fell silent and stranded both runners on base. Battle Creek starter Tommy Parsons proceeded to limit the Rafters to just one hit and a walk over the next five innings, throwing six scoreless frames in route to earning the victory.
Upon the exit of Parsons, the Rafters looked to break through against left-handed reliever Cody Puckett in the top of the seventh inning. After singles by Joe Wainhouse (Washington) and Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky), Jacson McGowan (Purdue) chopped a bouncer to third base that drew an errant throw from third baseman Ryan Dorow. The error allowed Wainhouse to score and put runners on second and third with two outs, only for the Rafters to strand the men on base. At the seventh inning stretch, the Rafters trailed 4-1.
Over the final two innings, the Rafters would compile three hits, but would fail to score again, eventually succumbing to the Bombers by a final score of 4-1. The loss is the second consecutively for the Rafters and leaves Wisconsin Rapids still trying to clinch a spot in the Northwood League playoffs.
The Rafters will return to action against the Battle Creek Bombers Tuesday night at C.O. Brown Stadium with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. local time (6:05 p.m. CT). Coverage will begin on WFHR 1320 AM 15 minutes before first pitch.
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