By Cooper Perkins
Playing host once again, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (7-6) looked to salvage a split with the newest Northwoods League team, the Rockford Rivets (8-6) on Monday night.
Both teams entered tonight’s contest sporting six wins in their last ten games. Unfortunately for the Rafters, the Rivets offered a dominating pitching performance and dropped their hosts to a 6-1 defeat.
Rockford’s display of clutch two-out hitting allowed them to strike first, on a two-run double by Ricardo Ramirez and an RBI single from Neal Tyrell in the first inning. Just one inning later, the Rivets tacked on two more runs against Rafter starter Jack Riley (UConn) to bump their lead to 5-0. Riley, a 2015 Northwoods League All-Star, was lifted after just one and two-thirds of an inning, having surrendered five earned runs on five extra base hits.
Asked to pick up the pieces, Damien Richard (Xavier) made his Rafters debut and tossed three and one-third innings of scoreless work, while allowing just one hit and striking out two. Replacing the right-hander from Xavier was Jake Repavich (Grand Canyon), who also made his Rafters debut. Repavich allowed one run on a Joshua Hauser sacrifice fly to pad the Rivet lead and run their tally to 6-0 through five and half innings.
The Rafters threatened in the bottom of the sixth, as they loaded the bases with no outs against Rivet starter Zachary Aring. Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) plated the first run for the Rats on a sacrifice fly to right field, allowing Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) to score. Aring limited the sixth-inning damage to just one run and exited as the pitcher of record. Aring’s success was demonstrated by his retiring the first nine hitters consecutively. In his quality start, Airing compiled five strikeouts and gave up just one run on four hits in route to earning the victory.
Despite a threat with the bases loaded and only one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Rafters were unable to plate additional support for their pitching staff and succumbed to the Rivets by a count of 6-1.
The Rats’ six-game home stand will continue tomorrow, as they welcome the first-place Madison Mallards to Witter Field for their final matchup of the season. First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM with gates opening at 6:05 PM.
For more information, please visit raftersbaseball.com