By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
Single in ninth scores game-winning run
Despite a late deficit, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (35-18, 11-6) rallied to score the final three runs of the game and knocked off the Battle Creek Bombers (26-27, 8-9) in walk-off fashion by a final score of 7-6.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Battle Creek third baseman Ryan Dorow loudly announced his presence to the Witter Field crowd by launching a two-run home run off Nick Belzer (Des Moines Area CC) to open the scoring. Once Belzer settled down, the Rafters responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first frame courtesy of an infield single off the bat of Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky). The run would be the first of four consecutive tallies plated by the Rafters, who added two runs on a line drive into the right-center field gap by Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) in the bottom of the second. Despite sliding into third with what looked to be a triple, Sims was ruled out at first on an appeal by the Bombers, erasing the base hit from the scorebook, but allowing the runs to stand. Two innings later, Joey Morgan (Washington) unleashed a solo home run for his fourth blast of the season, padding the Rafters’ lead to 4-2.
In just his second start of the year, Belzer turned in a solid performance that was soured slightly in his fifth and final inning when Nick Podkul began the frame with a home run—his first of two—to cut the score to 4-3. Belzer’s evening concluded after five innings of work in which he surrendered three runs (all earned) on six hits and three walks, while racking up six strikeouts.
Following Belzer’s exit, the Bombers exploded for a three-run sixth inning and seized a 6-4 lead thanks to an RBI single from Christian Helsel and Podkul’s second home run of the night—a two-run blast. With the three-run inning, the Bombers relieved their starter Austin Nazabal from potentially absorbing a loss and instead aided the starter to a no-decision in his Bomber debut. In five innings on the bump, Nazabal allowed four runs (all earned) on five hits and three walks, while punching out three batters.
Trailing by two runs, the Rafters entered the bottom of the seventh inning seeking to narrow their deficit and found success when Logan Mattix (Georgia College) drove home a run on an RBI single through the right side of the infield to pull within 6-5. Despite loading the bases with just one out, reliever Brandon Guske would force the Rafters to strand the bases loaded.
The Rafters would again leave multiple runners on base in the bottom of the eighth inning before mounting a no-our rally in the bottom of the ninth. With the bases loaded, Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) lifted a blooper behind second base that fell behind shortstop Daniel Platzaff to instigate a fielder’s choice at second base and allowed the tying run to score. After a bunt single from Brandon Polizzi loaded the bases again, Demetrius Sims drove a 1-0 pitch from Guske over the head of right-fielder Eric Gilgenbach and pushed home the winning run. Sims, who was mobbed by his teammates behind second base, lifted the Rafters to their third walk-off win of the season and pushed them to 4-1 against Battle Creek.
With three scoreless innings, Cameron Busby (Georgia College) secured his team-leading sixth win of the season. In contrast, the blown save was only the second of the season for Guske, who took the loss, moving him to 0-1.
The Rafters will return to action on Wednesday night to complete their two-game series with Battle Creek at 7:05 PM. Gates will open to the general public at 6:05 PM.
For more information please visit raftersbaseball.com