Seventh-Inning Miscues Give Rafters Game One

By Luke Tanaka, Radio Broadcaster

The Battle Creek Bombers dropped game one if a two-game series with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 6-3, allowing the deciding three runs in the bottom of the seventh. 

The Bombers struck first, putting together a two-out rally in the second inning. Lin Li (Taiwan) started with a single and Niko Pacheco (Cal State Fullerton) continued his hot streak, following with a double down the right-field line. Ryan Budnick (Santa Clara) recorded his first hit of the season, knocking in Li and Pacheco, but was caught trying to stretch his single into a double. 

The Rafters answered right back with two runs of their own in the bottom half. Mitch McGeein (Eastern Michigan), Brock Carpenter (Seattle), Zack Domingues (Long Beach St.), and Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) all recorded singles to pull Wisconsin Rapids even. 

Battle Creek retook the lead in the third. Christian Helsel (Penn State) led off with a walk and the next batter, Dan Swain (Siena), reached on an error by the third baseman. Both runners advanced on Cayce Bredlau’s (Austin Peay) sacrifice bunt. Helsel scored on a Trek Stemp (Washington State) sacrifice fly to center, just beating the throw from Rafters centerfielder Jake Sandlin (Georgia College). 

Again, Wisconsin Rapids answered, this time in the fourth. Ryan Cleveland (Georgia Southern) walked and came around to score on a throwing error by Li, who was trying to turn a double play. 

After six innings, Andrew Mitchell (Delgado CC) was pulled after throwing 105 pitches and six innings. He allowed three runs and six hits, while walking just one and striking out nine. 

Tyler Harris (Miami-Ohio) replaced Mitchell in the seventh. He forced a popout, but threw the ball away on a bunt by Sims, which allowed the Rafter to reach third. Harris loaded the bases with a walk and hit by pitch, and Jake Sandlin (Georgia College) cleared them with a triple down the right-field line. 

The Rafters bullpen held strong as Jake Johansmeier (Eastern Illinois) retired the first eight Bombers he faced. The Bombers put the tying run at the plate after Budnick walked and Helsel reached on an error. Johansmeier closed the door when Swain singled to the right side of the infield, but Budnick was caught trying to score from second. The teams had to be separated by the coaching staffs, as tempers sparked after Budnick was tagged out at the plate. 

Pacheco continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-4 with a double and a single. Li added three hits for the Bombers. Kaleb McCurry (Mars Hill University) held the deficit at three in the eighth, replacing Harris and striking out both batters he faced. 

The Rafters and Bombers will wrap up their two-game series with a 6:05 p.m. local time (7:05 p.m. Eastern time) first pitch tomorrow night. Alex Hermeling (Louisiana-Monroe) is the scheduled starter for Battle Creek. 

The Battle Creek Bombers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). For more information, visit

(Story photo courtesy of Battle Creek Photography and Design – Levi Green)