Poor Defense and Quiet Bats Sink Rafters
By Cooper Perkins
Mequon, Wis. – Sunday evening proved to be a dissatisfying experience for the streaking Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (16-9), as they watched their five-game winning streak dissolve at the hands of the Lakeshore Chinooks (11-17). In a sloppy defensive game that included a quartet of errors, the Rafters fell by a final score of 6-2 for just their second loss in their last 10 games.
Taking the ball for the Rafters was left-hander Jake Repavich (Grand Canyon), who made his second start of the season and third appearance overall. Repavich fell victim to poor defensive backing throughout the game in route to allowing six total runs (five unearned). In his six innings on the hill, Repavich surrendered nine hits and a pair of walks, while striking out three and taking the loss.
Countering Repavich for the Chinooks was right-hander Keenan Bartlett, who used a low-90s fastball and a series of off-speed pitches to limit the Rafter lineup for six innings. In earning the victory, his first of the season, Bartlett allowed just two runs (one earned) on four hits and three walks, while striking out seven hitters.
The scoring opened with one out in the bottom of the first at Kapco Park, following a single from Royce Ando and a four-pitch walk to Tim Dalporto. The next batter, Hayden Singer, bounced the ball to short, allowing Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) to record one out at second before Jake Lumley (Canisius) offered a wild turn to first. On the wild throw, Ando was allowed to score.
Trailing 1-0 upon entrance to the second inning, the Rafters manufactured a rally with a leadoff walk by Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) and an error by first baseman Matt Johnson that allowed Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) to reach base. With none out, Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) pulled the ball on the ground to first, moving the runners to second and third. With one out, Logan Mattix (Georgia College) lashed a run-scoring double to the left field wall, plating Fisher from second and pushing Calabrese to third. The ensuing hitter, Joey Morgan (Washington) lofted the 1-2 pitch from Bartlett deep enough to right-center field to score Calabrese and offer the Rafters a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately for the strong Rafters, their lead would last only until the bottom of the third thanks to a no-out rally and a pair of miscues in the field. Courtesy of a misplay by Sims at short and a throwing error by Repavich, Lakeshore plated two of their five unearned runs in the third inning and took a 3-2 lead—an advantage that would hold up to the end of the game.
After a series of scoreless frames, Repavich entered the bottom of the sixth looking to polish off a quality start and send the Rafters back to the plate with a chance to tie the game. Trailing the last-place Chinooks 3-2, a second error from Sims and a sacrifice but by Owen Miller set the stage for Kevin Riley to bat with a runner in scoring position. Riley, who fouled off the first offering from Repavich, proceeded to drive the subsequent 0-1 pitch over the right field wall, scoring two runs and extending the Chinook lead to 5-2. Three batters later, Royce Ando’s single to right field pushed Joe Duncan home from second base and pushed the score to 6-2 entering the final third of the contest.
In the final three innings, the Rafters would not offer much of a resistance to the Lakeshore bullpen, allowing reliever Chris Choles to face just one batter over the minimum and complete a three-inning save. The loss snapped the Rafters’ five-game winning streak and reduce their lead atop the South Division to just 1/2 of a game.
The Rafters return to action on Monday for a pair of seven-inning games against the Wisconsin Woodchucks at Athletic Park. First pitch for the initial game is set for 5:35 p.m. and game two is set for 7:35 p.m.
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