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Rafters, Dock Spiders Meet at Witter Field for Series Opener

FOND DU LAC, WI – The Fond du Lac Dock Spiders (11-9) begin a five game road trip tonight at Witter Field against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (19-2). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m., with coverage beginning at 6:20 p.m. on the Dock Spiders Radio Network. The Rafters enter today in first place in the Great Lakes West Division with the best record in the Northwoods League, while the Dock Spiders sit in second place in the division.

TODAY’S STORYLINES

WELCOME TO WITTER FIELD: Today marks the first time that the Dock Spiders have traveled to Witter Field this year as they take on the Great Lakes West-leading Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. The Rafters are a franchise-best 19-2 to start the year, which also is the best record in the Northwoods League. After winning 14 in a row to start the year 14-1, the Raftefrs are 5-1 over their last six, including three straight one-run wins coming into today. The Dock Spiders sit in second place in the Great Lakes West Division, and have allowed just nine runs over their last three games. In the only game between the two teams this year, the Rafters scored a season-high 17 runs in a 17-2 win, the most they’ve scored in a single-game since 2017.

IT’S CLOSE… AGAIN: The Madison Mallards jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning and never looked back, beating the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders 5-2 at Herr-Baker Field on Monday night. The Mallards staved off three different comeback attempts from the Dock Spiders, which saw them strand the tying run on base twice, in the third and fifth innings. Dock Spiders starter Austin Wagner became the second Dock Spider to pitch into the seventh inning after Kaleb Hill tossed seven shutout innings on Saturday at Lakeshore. The Dock Spiders would tally a run in the third and the fifth, but left seven men on base in the loss.

WHY ARE THEY ALL SO CLOSE: Monday night’s loss to Madison marked the 10th different Dock Spiders game decided by three runs or less in the first 21 games for Fond du Lac. The Dock Spiders are 4-6 in games decided by three or less, splitting their last two. In games decided by two or less, however, the Dock Spiders are 4-2. Coming into today, three of the last four have been decided by three or less.

STARTING IT OFF HOT: After Austin Wagner’s 6.1 innings on Monday night, Dock Spiders starters have allowed just two earned runs over their last 16.1 innings, a 1.10 ERA. Over the span, Wagner, Stephen Schissler and Kaleb Hill have combined to walk one batter and strike out nine. Wagner’s start last night extended his streak to 21.2 innings straight without allowing a walk to start the summer.

HITTING IT HARD: After recording a hit in his fourth straight game on Monday night, West Virginia-native Grant Hussey is hitting .318 (7-22) over his last five games. In the past two games, both against the Mallards, Hussey went 3-9 with a double and an RBI.

TODAY’S STARTING PITCHING MATCH-UP

RHP CAEDON KOTTINGER (FDL): Kottinger makes his first start since May 28, 2022 against Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament. He’s made every appearance on the road this year, including a season-high two innings at Madison on June 16.

RHP GRANT MANNING (WIR): Manning was originally slated to start against the Dock Spiders before last Wednesday’s rainout, but makes his second start of the year. He threw six innings of one-run ball against Wausau last Thursday.