Rafters Use Pitching to Beat Growlers
By Cooper Perkins
Kalamazoo, Mich. – Meeting for the third time in as many nights, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (11-7) held on to sink the Kalamazoo Growlers (10-9) by a score of 6-3 for their fourth victory in five games. The win allowed the Rafters to keep pace with the Madison Mallards in the South Division and remain 1.5 games behind the first-place club.
Cal Giese (St. Cloud State) took the ball for the Rafters on Saturday night and turned in a stellar performance to earn his second victory. In his longest outing of the summer, Giese worked five innings of shutout action and struck out a pair, allowing only one hit and three walks before being removed from the ballgame. The win helped Giese level his record at 2-2 and lowered the left-hander’s ERA to 2.40.
Giese continued to milk the two-run Rafter lead until the lineup struck again in the top of the third inning. With runners on the corners and no outs, Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, allowing Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) to plate the third run of the night for the Rafters.
After a handful of quiet innings, Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) connected on a 3-1 pitch from Brettell and deposited it over the right field wall for a towering three-run home run. The blast was Fisher’s third of the summer and doubled the Rafter lead to 6-0—a score that held up until the Growlers finally broke through in the bottom of the eighth.
In relief of Giese, Damien Richard (Xavier) worked 2.2 innings and notched five strikeouts, while surrendering two runs on three hits and three walks. Right-hander Blair Lakso (Buffalo) relieved Richard in the eighth inning and issued a bases-loaded walk to force in a run before recording the final out of the frame on a tremendous diving catch in left-center field by Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills). The catch not only ended the inning, but also saved a number of runs from scoring.
Finally in the ninth inning, trouble arose again for the Rafter pitching staff, as Lakso was tagged for an RBI double by Tre Gant before Garrett Schilling (Xavier) was brought on from the bullpen to finish matters. With the Rafters leading 6-3, Schilling inherited a one-out, bases-loaded jam, Schilling induced a pop fly and struck out a Kasey Cooper to end the ballgame and record his fourth save in four chances.
The Rafters and Growlers conclude their four-game series Sunday afternoon at 2:05 p.m. CT at Homer Stryker Field.
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