A man without a team
Rafters pitcher excels despite lack of high school program
For the City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – Wisconsin Rapids Rafters pitcher Gareth Stroh was a standout high school baseball player who never played high school baseball.
That is, Stroh’s high school in Gibbon, NB, did not have a baseball program. His only opportunity to play team baseball was during the summer travel baseball season. Stroh said the lack of exposure was not ideal, but being free during the spring season allowed him to pursue other sports, which he said helped him develop as an athlete.
With little recruitment out of high school, Stroh chose Coffeyville Community College in Kansas. As a freshman left-handed pitcher, Stroh went 2-6 with a 7.97 ERA. However, it was spending the summer with the 2016 Northwoods League Champion Rafters that opened up more opportunities for him.
“Going to Coffeyville was one of the best decisions I have ever made,” Stroh said. “As far as baseball goes, it gave me the chance to fail and learn from it as I had to learn how to pitch to better competition.”
Stroh finished the 2016 summer in Rapids with a 5-2 record, collecting a 3.60 ERA and 55 strikeouts. That year, Purdue’s first-year head coach Mark Wasikowski gave Stroh an opportunity to help him start a new era of Boilermaker baseball.
After two years with Purdue, Stroh said he decided it was time for a change. That is when he found an opportunity to play DI baseball in his home state with the University of Nebraska for his senior season.
Stroh returned to Rapids for the summer of 2018, going 3-1 and striking out 39 batters in nine starts. He sat out the spring of 2019 with the Cornhuskers due to transfer rules, but said he hopes he can build up stamina and improve as a pitcher in preparation for his final year of collegiate baseball.
“Playing summer ball here in Wisconsin Rapids and playing for (Craig) Noto has been pivotal in my development as a baseball player,” Stroh said. “I have had the opportunity to learn from great coaches and teammates and how they do things.”