Rafters Sink Growlers in Dogfight
By Cooper Perkins
In the final chapter of a six-game home stand, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (10-7) defeated the Kalamazoo Growlers (10-8) by a score of 4-1. Despite facing strong starting pitching from the Growlers, timely hitting and a collection of Growler errors lifted the Rafters to their second consecutive win.
After breezing through the first inning on just nine pitches, Dylan File (Dixie State) found himself in trouble come the top of the second. Consecutive singles to open the inning placed a pair of runners on first and second, instigating a Growler threat. A wild pitch then allowed the runners to advance to second and third before a second wild pitch just moments later would plate Sam Griggs from third base and award the Growlers an early 1-0 lead. After walking Dalton Combs to put runners on first and second with none out, File stiffened, striking out three consecutive batters to minimize the damage and leave runners on base.
Leading off the bottom of the third, Dustin Woodcock battled Growler starter B.J. Butler to a full count before drilling the right-hander’s 3-2 offering over the right-center field wall to tie the ballgame. The home run was Woodcock’s second of the season and ended a team-wide power outage that spanned more than a week. Woodcock’s blast was the first for the Rafters in 75 innings, dating to their June 8th victory over Thunder Bay—a total of 343 plate appearances between home runs.
The Kalamazoo lineup proved to be unable to scrape more than their lone second-inning run off File, who finished five innings of one-run work in his second start of the season. Upon exiting, File had surrendered just five hits, a walk, and one run, while striking out a season-high seven batters. Despite his stellar performance, File did not factor into the decision and watched his record stand pat at 1-0.
Each lineup was held in check until the bottom of the seventh inning, in which the Rafters leveraged a pair of Sam Griggs errors to score the go-ahead run on a Woodcock RBI single. One batter later, Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) delivered a single to center field that plated Woodcock from second base and offered the Rafters an additional run of insurance, pushing their lead to 3-1.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the margin would widen further after Jake Lumley (Canisius) doubled home Logan Mattix (Georgia College) on a sinking line drive to left field.
With Garrett Schilling (Xavier) entering from the bullpen in the top of the ninth, the Growlers were unable to muster much of a threat. The Rafter closer worked around a two-out error, struck out a pair, and handled a comebacker to seal the victory and pick up his third save in as many chances.
The Rafters travel to Kalamazoo on Saturday for a weekend series at Home Stryker Field against the Growlers. First pitch on Saturday is slated for 5:05 p.m. CT. For more information, please visit raftersbaseball.com