Rafters Clinch Top Seed in Split on Saturday
By Cooper Perkins
Special to the City Times
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (49-22, 25-10) entered Saturday riding a nine-game winning streak, but watched as it was snapped with a 5-2 loss in the day’s first game. Shortly after, however, the Rafters responded by routing the Battle Creek Bombers (38-33, 20-15) by a score of 14-5 and picked up their forty-ninth win of the season, clinching the best overall record in the Northwoods League.
The Rafters entered the first game trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning, acting as the home team at C.O. Brown Stadium. A quiet game at the plate doomed the Rafters in the double-header’s opening act, as a late two-run home run from Max Widmar (Iowa Central) was the only resistance the Rafters could muster. The Bombers scored in five separate innings and piled up 15 hits in the process of snapping the Rafters’ winning streak.
Saturday’s second ballgame, however, proved to be far more fruitful for Wisconsin Rapids, as the Rafters continued their season-long trend of explosive innings en route to compiling 14 runs in just seven innings.
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, the Rafters promptly ripped the lead away from the Bombers on a two-run home run by Scott Kapers (Valparaiso), his third long ball of the season. In the ensuing inning, the Rafters blew the game open with a five-run frame that was catalyzed by five walks walks. A wild pitch pushed across the inning’s first run, followed by a sacrifice fly from Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago), a bases-loaded walk by Kapers, and a two-run single by Will Iloncaie (UW-Stevens Point). Entering the bottom of the third inning, the Rafters boasted a 7-1 lead.
After a scoreless fourth inning, the Rafters posted another five-run rally in the fifth, catalyzed by run-scoring hits by Richie Palacios (Towson) and Brett Thompson (Hope International) and concluded by Joe Wainhouse’s (Washington) ninth home run of the year—a mammoth three-run shot to right field. An inning later, Palacios and Wainhouse each added one additional RBI and rounded out the Rafters’ 14-run total. Wainhouse’s four-RBI performance earned him the Northwoods League Position Player of the Night award.
Starting pitcher Jay Peters (UW-Milwaukee) earned a victory in his fourth consecutive start, pitching five innings and allowing two runs (both earned) on four hits and one walk, while striking out a season-high seven batters. Bullpen anchors Blair Lakso (Buffalo) and Garrett Schilling (Xavier) combined for an uncharacteristic two-inning finish, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out only two.
The Rafters will return to the field on Sunday for their regular-season finale, a 4:05 PM CT first pitch against the Bombers.
For more information please visit raftersbaseball.com