Luke Tanaka, Radio Broadcaster
Battle Creek, Mich. – In front of 2,180 fans on Strikeout Cancer Night, the Battle Creek Bombers dropped a back-and-forth battle with the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 14-9.
The game featured six lead changes and four ties before a six-run eighth inning sent the Rafters in front for good.
The Rafters put the game’s first run on the board in the first when Zack Domingues (Long Beach State) led off the game with a double, moved to third on an Ernie Clement (Virginia) ground out, and dashed home on a wild pitch.
The Bombers took their first lead in the bottom half of the opening inning. Brennond Lund (BYU) and Cayce Bredlau (Austin Peay) led off the Bombers half of the inning with consecutive doubles. Then Bredlau scored later on a great hook slide when Niko Pacheco reached on a fielder’s choice.
Four runs for the Rafters allowed them to retake the lead in the second inning. Bryce Jordan (LSU) led off with a walk and Jake Sandlin (Southern Miss) moved him to third by roping his Northwoods League-leading 21st double. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch, tying the ballgame at two. After Sam Tolleson (Central Florida) walked, Bombers starter Edgar Sanchez (Prairie View A&M) recorded two quick outs to the eighth and ninth place hitters. With the top of the order up, Dominguez walked and Clement singled. Sandlin scored easily on the single, but Domingues and Tolleson also scored on a pair of Bombers errors on the play, giving the Rafters a 5-2 lead.
The Bombers made it a one-run ballgame again with a pair in the second. Lin Li (Taiwan) singled and Josh Smith (Grand Valley State) reached on a catcher’s obstruction call. A Matt Simmons (Gardner-Webb) base hit loaded the bases for Blake Swann (Florida Southern). Swann hit a sacrifice fly to right-center field, scoring Li. Smith crossed the plate on Brennon Lund’s (BYU) RBI single. Battle Creek would load the bases again when Bredlau walked, but Rafter starter David Calderon (Morehead State) struck out Gary Russo (Miami-Ohio) to end the inning.
Once again the Bombers plated a pair in the third, this time using three consecutive hits to take their second lead of the game. Dre Gleason (Austin Peay) singled and scored on a triple by Li. It was the first extra-base hit for Li that was not a double. Li scored easily when Smith roped a single to right field, giving the Bombers a 6-5 lead.
The bats took a hiatus for the next three frames. The only hit came in the bottom of the sixth, a two-out RBI single by Gleason to make the score 7-5 in favor of Battle Creek.
The Rafters took another one-run lead with a three-run seventh. All three batters who walked in the inning came around to score, highlighted by a Brock Carpenter (Seattle) two-RBI single, which made the score 8-7 Wisconsin Rapids.
Battle Creek tied the game again when Smith reached on an error in the seventh, stole a bag, moved to third on a gorundout to the right side, and completed his station-to-statiuon movement by scoring on Swann's second sacrifice fly of the ballgame.
The big blow came in the eighth inning as the Rafters plated five unearned runs off of Nick Medeiros (Santa Clara) and Mason Marshall (BYU). Two runners reached off of Medeiros, a hit by pitch and a single. With Marshall in the game, Scotty Wright (North Florida) his a sacrifice fly to score Tolleson and give the Rafters a one-run lead. With two away, an error extended the inning for Wisconsin Rapids and they took advantage. Carpenter padded the lead with his second two-RBI single in as many innings, scoring Domingues and Clement. Then Ryan Cleveland (Seattle) hit is seventh home run of the year to right field, making the score 14-8.
Dre Gleason added one more for the Bombers in the eighth, crushing his second home run of the season.
Medeiros took the loss for the Bombers, tossing an inning and allowing three runs (two earned). Sanchez left the game with the lead, but recived a no decision, pitching 6 1-3 innings, four hits, and seven runs (five earned), while striking out two and walking six. After struggling in the beginning of his outing, Sanchez sat down nine in a row in the fourth-sixth innings. Marshall allowed four runs in the eighth, but none of them were earned and Brandon Willard (Cornerstone) tossed a scoreless ninth.
Gleason and Swann both notched two-RBI days. Gleason launched a solo shot and knocked in a two-out single, while Swann hit two sacrifice flies. Gleason’s three hits led Battle Creek. Lund and Li (first triple of the season) also had multi-hit games for the Bombers, while Bredlau, Smith, and Simmons also recorded base hits.
Four Rafters pitchers threw two innings and the fifth, Joey Graziano (St. John’s), recorded the win allowing just an unearned run. All five Rafters pitchers gave up at least one run.
Offensively, Carpenter paced the Rafters with four RBIs in two hits, while Cleveland continued his success against the Bombers with another home run. Domingues scored three runs, ending this series five-for-seven with six runs scored.
The Bombers wrap their 2015 season with a six-game road trip. It all begins tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. Central time in Mequon against the Lakeshore Chinooks.
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.
(Feature story photo courtesy of Battle Creek Photography and Design – Levi Green)