By Luke Tanaka, Radio Broadcaster
Battle Creek, Mich. – A two-out, two RBI double by Jake Sandlin (Southern Miss) in the eighth inning was the deciding factor in the Battle Creek Bombers' 6-4 loss to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.
With two outs and two men on, Sandlin drove a ball deep into the gap in left-center field. Dan Swain (Siena) ranged way to his right, but could not make the catch, which allowed the two deciding runs to cross the plate.
After taking early leads in each of their last three games, the Bombers watched the Rafters plate two unearned, first-inning runs in the ballgame tonight. Zack Domingues (Long Beach State) reached on ground ball that skipped right under the glove of first baseman Blake Swann (Florida Southern). With Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) batting, Domingues moved to second on a wild pitch. Woodcock advanced him to third on his single and Dominguez finished his trip around the bases on a Beau Jordan (LSU) fielder’s choice, giving the Rafters a 1-0 lead. Jordan scored the second Wisconsin Rapids run on a single by Ryan Cleveland (Georgia Southern).
The Rafters added to their lead in the fourth and the fifth. Bryce Jordan (LSU) doubled and came around to score in the fourth on a ground ball that was misplayed by Lin Li (Taiwan). One inning later, Cleveland recorded his second RBI, knocking a line drive over the centerfield fence for his second home run of the season.
The Bombers answered in the fifth with a four-run, two-out rally. After Dan Swain (Siena) reached on a fielder’s choice for the second out, Li singled through the left side, and Swann drove in the Bombers first run with an RBI single. That chased Wisconsin Rapids starter Jon Mamlin (Texas), but the Bombers continued their rally off of reliever Dimitry Shykther (Russia). A pinch-hitter Cayce Bredlau (Austin Peay) walked to load the bases and Christian Helsel (Penn State) followed with a hit by pitch to force in the second run of the inning. The next hitter, Steven Wells Jr. (Florida State) lined a single up the middle to score two more runs. Battle Creek got greedy when the throw from center went to the backstop, as the Rafters threw out Helsel at home plate on the play, ending the inning.
The Rafters retook the lead in the eighth, Griffin Weir’s (Stanford) third inning of work, on Sandlin’s double.
The Bombers did not reach base in the eighth or ninth innings as James Davitt (Bryant) emphatically shut the door.
Min Hsia (Taiwan) lasted five innings, allowing four runs (two earned) and seven hits, while striking out three. Weir pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh before allowing two in the eighth and took the loss. Chase Tavonatti (Salt Lake CC) entered in the eighth and allowed just a single.
The Rafters’ starter Mamlin surrendered four hits, four walks, and three runs in 4 2-3 innings. Shykther allowed two of Mamlin’s runs to cross the plate in the fifth, but allowed just one of his own in 1 1-3 innings (one hit, two walks, two strikeouts). John Jaeger (Pacific) threw the seventh and received the win, striking out two in his only inning of work and Davitt forced two strikeouts, two fly outs, and two ground outs to the six Bombers he faced.
The key Bombers hits came from Wells Jr. (two RBI single) and Swann (RBI single) in the fourth. Li led the Bombers with two hits and a run scored. Swain recorded the only other Battle Creek base knock.
Cleveland took the offensive load in the first half of the game, knocking in three of the Rafters’ first four runs. Sandlin did the rest, supplying the go-ahead two-RBI double.
The Bombers (15-30, 2-8 second half) hit the road for a weekend series in Madison. They return home Monday for game four against the Kalamazoo Growlers. With a win, Battle Creek (3-0 against Kalamazoo) can clinch a share of the rivalry series.
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 www.battlecreekbombers.com.
(Story photo courtesy of Battle Creek Photography and Design – Levi Green)