Rafters take two against Woodchucks, clinch regular-season championship
For the City Times
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (32-11) won 10-3 on Aug. 17 over the Wisconsin Woodchucks (14-30), behind another sharp performance offensively and defensively. Four Rafters pitchers struck out 11 and the hitters got ten runs on six hits and nine walks.
The Rafters jumped out to a five-run lead in the third, responding to an early Woodchucks run. Jason DiCochea singled to left field with two runners on, scoring Angelo D’Acunto and Parker Nolan to give the Rafters their first lead. After a Hank Zeisler walk, Christian Sepulveda smacked a no-doubt three-run home run over the left field fence, his fifth of the season. The Rafters have a league-best 41 homers, best in the Northwoods League. The Rafters added on four more runs with four walks and one hit in the seventh to take a 10-3 lead.
On the pitching end of things, the Rafters picked up good innings from four Rafters. Chris McElvain struck out three in a short two inning start, preserving his arm for the playoffs. Travis Adams, in a rare relief role, allowed one earned run and walked none in two innings, winning his third game of the season. Stevens Point native Kaleb Schulist pitched three scoreless with three strikeouts, and the game was closed down by Hunter Waldis, who threw two scoreless with four strikeouts.
With the win, the Rafters clinched the regular-season championship in the Northwoods League Wisconsin-Illinois Pod. Witter Field will host any Rafters games in the Wisconsin-Illinois Pod Playoffs.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters improved to a pod-best 33-11 with an electric 3-2 win over the Wisconsin Woodchucks (14-31) at Athletic Park on Aug. 18. Brayden Bonner earned his league-best seventh save, stranding the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the ninth, silencing a Wisconsin rally.
Pitchers dominated the game until the ninth. In a bullpen game for Wisconsin Rapids, Gabe Levy, Jimmy Borzone and Ethan Peters combined to shutout the Woodchucks for eight innings, striking out eight Woodchucks and allowing just two hits. Gabe Levy led the way for the Rafters in strikeouts with four over 2.2 innings.
Jace Baumann, the Woodchucks starting pitcher, pitched seven strong innings versus the Rafters division-best offense. The only run off the Mosinee native came in the fourth. Jason DiCochea, in another multi-hit game, singled sharply to center. Hank Zeisler doubled down the left field three pitches later, moving DiCochea down to third base. With one out in the inning and the bases loaded, Jacob Hinderleider lifted a flyball to right field, deep enough to score DiCochea for the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly.
The game was 1-0 until the ninth, when the Rafters received some help to get insurance runs. Hank Zeisler reached on an error by the second baseman to lead off the ninth. Kyle Teel walked, moving the Zeisler to second. Jacob Hinderleider came to the plate with another runner in scoring position, and drove him in. Hinderleider singled through the left side of the infielder scoring Zeisler for his second RBI of the night. The Rafters would get an important third run on a wild pitch to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth.
The Woodchucks then put up a comeback in the ninth, scoring two. Bonner recorded his 18th save of his Rafters career, inducing a foul popout by Isaiah Mirabal to end the game. The 18th save ties the Rafters career saves record, set by Layne Henderson in 2017 and Garrett Schilling in 2016.