By Sedric Granger
Wisconsin Rapids, WI – The Battle Creek Battle Jacks (21-32, 11-8) erased a four run deficit to beat the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (27-25, 7-10), 7-5, in extras, silencing the crowd of over 1000 fans at Witter Field.
Throughout the first five innings, the Battle Jacks had no answer for the Rafters. Wisconsin Rapids built up their lead incrementally through scoring one run in the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings, including a solo home run in the 5th that ignited the crowd. Battle Creek did not have an answer offensively, not registering a single hit through five innings.
Like the Battle Jacks did against the Woodchucks a few days prior, Battle Creek was not deterred by the early deficit. The Battle Jacks rallied back to tie things up behind a couple of terrific innings. In the 6th inning, Jt Sokolove (Illinois State) broke the no hitter with a line drive single to center field. After breaking through for the first time, the Battle Jacks generated some positive momentum. Blake Salamon scorched a two-RBI single into right center field to drive in Sokolove and Sebastian Kuhns (Huntington), cutting the deficit to just two runs, 4-2.
The scoring bonanza continued for the Battle Jacks into the 7th inning. After Brock Daniels (Missouri) and Blake McRae (Eastern Michigan) drew walks, Kuhns drilled a two RBI single into left field for the game tying hit.
“I have been struggling a little bit recently, so I tried to shorten up my approach tonight. It felt good to be rewarded for that work,” said Kuhns after the victory. “Coming from behind to win was huge for morale, the whole team was hyped!”
With the game tied at four, it was up to the Battle Jacks pitching staff to hold the Rafters to three runs, and the arms for the Battle Jacks delivered in a big way. Starting pitcher Lukas Brewer (Lansing CC) utilized his fastball to pick up outs, providing a season-high six and one thirds innings of work. Jake Jekielek (Northwood) was lethal out of the bullpen, striking out five and earning his second win of the season. Brewer’s ability to limit the Rafters to no more than one run an inning and Jekielek’s elite outing, pushed the game into extras.
With the game on the line, the Battle Jacks offense surged in the 10th inning. Brock Daniels scorched an RBI single scoring Coltrane Rubner (Davenport) to give the Jacks the lead. A few moments later, Blake McRae blooped a two-RBI single driving in Jake Allgeyer and Daniels to give Battle Creek a 7-4 advantage. Due to their being a runner in scoring position automatically in extra innings, it is expected for an offense to score at least once. As a result, it is crucial to add extra insurance, and McRae did just that with his hit.
“We are really good late in the game,” said McRae triumphantly after the win. “Even if we are struggling early on, if we keep having good at-bats and approaches and trusting in ourselves to come through, we are going to get big hits.”
Although the Rafters mustered a single run, left-handed pitcher Brandon Markarian was clutch in the home half of the 10th inning, striking out Rafters players like Brendan Bobo who have caused problems for the Battle Jacks in their matchups this season. Lastly, Dylan Howanitz earned his eighth save of the season by picking up the final out of the 10th to clinch the win, 7-5.
With this win, the Battle Jacks have now won three of their four games on their road trip and are just one win away from clinching a positive record in this seven-game road stretch. The Blue and White have now overcome deficits of eight runs and four runs along this road trip which are two of their largest comebacks all season. After being shut out at Witter Field twice in 2021, Battle Creek’s first trip to Wisconsin Rapids post-rebrand was a successful one. Lastly, the Dogs now have more wins in the second half than they did the entirety of the first half! The Battle Jacks will play game two of the series against the Rafters on Friday.
“We knew we were capable of a comeback. It was an all-around buy-in by everyone,” said Field Manager Chris Clark after the comeback victory. “For the hitters, they never panicked and kept making good swings. I am very proud of the effort all around from both the offense and the pitching tonight.”
The Battle Creek Battle Jacks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 27th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, over 250 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB Gold Glove finalist and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.battlejacksbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set Battle Creek as your favorite team.