Rafters win three games after returning from All-Star break
By Jacob Heid
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — After a three-day break, Wisconsin Rapids hit the ground running again after the All-Star break. The team started play back up on July 21, traveling to Fond Du Lac for two games against the Dock Spiders. They then played two games versus the Madison Mallards on July 23-24. The Rafters came out of the four-game stretch with a 3-1 record.
The weekend started with a series in Fond Du Lac. Rapids won the first game narrowly, 6-5 in 10 innings. The Rafters started where they had left off before the All-Star break on offense. They scored four runs in the top of the first inning, starting with McKinley Erves’ lead-off single. In the next at-bat, Colin Tuft launched a ball off the left-field wall, driving in Erves for the first run of the game.
Later in the inning, a bases-loaded walk scored the Rafters’ second run of the inning. With two outs, North Alabama’s Levi Jenson hit a two-run single to increase the lead to 4-0.
Michael Lindsey got the nod in the first game for the Rafters since the break. He gave up two runs in the Dock Spiders’ half of the first. Rapids had a 4-2 advantage after one inning.
After a quick start for both teams, neither team crossed the plate for the next four innings. Rapids scored once more in the fifth, from an Aiden Brewer solo home run, putting the Rafters ahead 5-2. The Dock Spiders responded with a run in each of the next two innings, cutting the lead to one, 5-4. Preston Howey came in to pitch for the Rafters in the ninth. Howey loaded the bases and hit Kemp Alderman to bring in a run, tying the game, 5-5. Rapids recorded two outs in the top of the tenth, and then Harry Owen ripped an RBI double to give the Rafters a 6-5 lead. Connor Kurki (Coastal Carolina) came in to the game for the save in the bottom of the tenth. With a couple of men on, Kurki threw one more pitch that ended in a fly-out to end the game.
On Friday, the Dock Spiders got revenge on the Rafters, squeaking out a competitive 2-1 victory in another 10-inning game. The two starting pitchers threw five scoreless innings until the Rafters scored their only run in the sixth, off of a sacrifice fly from Garrett Broussard. A 1-1 game went into extra innings, where Fond Du Lac walked it off on a Cole Messina single into right field. Rapids suffered just its 10th loss of the season.
On July 23, the Rafters would find themselves at Witter Field for the first game against the Mallards. Rapids went back and forth with Madison, trading blows through seven innings, with the Mallards holding a 4-3 lead. The Rats came alive in the eighth inning, tying the game at four on an RBI single from Broussard. After that, Chase Call came in to pinch hit in his first at-bat since July 2. It didn’t take long before Call launched a three-run bomb that would end up winning the game for the Rafters. Ben Adams came in to the game in the ninth for a save opportunity. Adams retired Madison in order, picking up his second save of the season.
In the last game of the weekend, the Rafters traveled to Madison for the series finale July 24. In another narrowly-won game, Rapids picked up its 42nd victory of the season. After four scoreless innings for both sides, the Rafters scored two runs in the fifth off of a two-RBI single from McKinley Erves. Another Rapids run scored in the sixth inning via a solo home run from Colin Tuft, giving Wisconsin Rapids a 3-0 advantage. Rapids pitching dominated through six innings. The Mallards picked up two runs in the home half of the seventh, making it a 3-2 ballgame. An RBI single from Stone Miyao gave the Rafters a 4-2 lead. Then Rapids held off a late surge from Madison in the bottom of the ninth. The Rafters escaped with a 4-3 victory, their fourth win against the Mallards in a week.