By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (41-21, 17-9) used a combination of strong pitching and a wide-spread offensive performance to sink the Rockford Rivets (29-34, 12-15) in an 11-2 route. Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC) earned his fourth win of the summer and a trio of new faces debuted in the victory, helping the Rafters to 12 hits on the night.
The Rafters wasted no time in opening the game’s scoring, as a wild pitch plated Richie Palacios (Towson) after consecutive hits placed runners on second and third with no outs. An RBI single to right field by Joe Wainhouse (Washington) and a run-scoring double off the center field wall by Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) extended the Rafters’ lead to 3-0 after half an inning. The Rivets answered with a run of resistance in the bottom half of the frame on a run-scoring groundout by Ricardo Ramirez
One inning later, the Rafters added two additional runs to widen their margin to 5-1, the first on an RBI double by Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) and the second on Wainhouse’s second run-scoring single of the night. The club tallied a run for a third consecutive inning when Palacios brought home his first RBI as a Rafter on groundout to second base, widening the gap to 6-1 after the third inning.
Starting pitcher Gareth Stroh would allow only one more run in the game, coming on a run-scoring groundout from Cory Wright. The left-hander proceeded to work 6 2/3 innings, surrendering just two runs (both earned) on six hits, while recording six strikeouts without a walk. Stroh, who exited the game in the bottom of the seventh inning leading 6-2, earned his fourth victory of the season.
With the score holding steading into the top of the eighth inning, Palacios pulled through again with his second hit of the night, a two-run single to offer the Rafters additional insurance. Brett Thompson (Hope International) rounded out his debut with an RBI double to score Max Widmar (Iowa Central)—his third hit of the night. Later in the inning, a two-run single from Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills) widened the score to it’s final margin of 11-2.
Right-handed pitcher Alex Varaksa (Lackawanna CC) debuted in relief of Gareth Stroh, entering with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. In 1 1/3 innings of scoreless work, Varaksa scattered a hit and a walk, while striking out one. With the Rafters leading 11-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Varaksa was disallowed a chance at finishing the game when a thunderstorm consumed Rivets Stadium and cut the game short.
The Rafters look for a series sweep on Friday night as they round out their four-game road swing with a 6:35 PM first pitch at Rivets Stadium.
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