WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI – After scoring two runs in the eighth to take the lead, the Dock Spiders (8-8) gave up two runs in the last two innings as the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (12-5) walked it off in the ninth to win 4-3.
Much like Monday night’s game at Witter Field, Friday night was another solid pitcher’s duel between the Rafters and Dock Spiders. Left-hander Jake Saum (UCLA) took on the Rafters go-to man Glenn Albanese (University of Louisville), who came into the matchup ranked third in the Northwoods League in strikeouts (24).
Albanese had yet to give up a run in his 12 innings on the mound in the 2020 season, but Victor Scott II (West Virginia University) changed that after launching a solo home run to right field, his first on the year, to put Fond du Lac in front, 1-0, in the third inning.
The Rafters tied it 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth following two errors in the field on the Dock Spiders. Jack-Thomas Wold (UNLV) brought in the tying run on an infield hit to second base, the only hit of the inning.
Wisconsin Rapids took the lead the next inning following an Andy Garriola (Old Dominion University) single into center field that plated a run.
The Dock Spiders started a comeback in the top of the eighth that started with Taylor Jackson (University of Illinois) reaching first on a grounder to third and advancing to second after the throw from Christian Sepulveda (UT – Rio Grande Valley) got to the first-base wall. Parker Noland (Vanderbilt University) grounded out to second for the first out, but Jackson advanced to third to put the tying run 90 feet away. With two outs, Tim Elko (University of Mississippi) drew a pinch-hit walk to put runners at the corners. With a chance to tie the game, Dock Spiders manager Zac Charbonneau brought the sure-hand man Sam Novitske (University of Oregon) in to pinch-hit.
Billy Black (Columbia University) made a pickoff move to first, but his throw sailed wide and allowed Jackson to score to tie the game at two. Just one pitch later, Novitske drilled a line drive into center that scored Elko from second to give the Dock Spiders a 3-2 lead.
The lead would not last long for Fond du Lac, as the Rafters would tie it in the bottom of the eighth after Hank Zeisler (Chapman University) delivered a pinch-hit RBI-single to make it 3-3 going to the ninth.
Fond du Lac came close to taking the lead back in the ninth, as Wildcat teammates Ryan Ritter (University of Kentucky) and John Rhodes (University of Kentucky) would reach base and get to third and second, respectively. A line drive from Noland almost dropped in for a hit but was caught to end the threat.
It was a quick ending in the bottom of the ninth, as Billy Cook (Pepperdine University) crushed a 1-1 pitch into the night sky and over the left-field wall to walk it off for the Rafters and give them the 4-3 victory. The home run was Cook’s only hit in his five appearances at the plate in the game.
Jake Saum had a great third appearance on the season, pitching for three and one-third innings and allowing one run (unearned) on three hits with four strikeouts. Grant Leonard (University of Iowa) allowed one run on one hit in an inning and a third while also striking out a batter. After a solid outing on Monday night, Alex Vera (University of Illinois) made it two strong appearances in Wisconsin Rapids, going two and two-thirds innings and allowing just one run on three hits and recording six strikeouts. Trace Hoffman (University of Iowa) came in to close the eighth and did so successfully, but is given the loss to fall to 1-2 on the season.
The two teams will meet again today at Herr-Baker Field at Marian University for a rare 1:05 pm Saturday start time. Ryan Loutos (Washington University in St. Louis) will try to bring the Dock Spiders to an even 2-2 season record against the Rafters and will go against Alex Salazar (Campbellsville University) on the mound. The game still has seats available, so come out to the ballpark if you’ve got the time to watch some baseball!
The Fond du Lac Dock Spiders 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’ 26th 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 230 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 (CHC) 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 All-Star Jordan Zimmermann (DET). 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.dockspiders.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Dock Spiders as your favorite team.