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Evan Smith Plays Hero in Walk-Off Win Against Rafters

FOND DU LAC, WI – Evan Smith (West Virginia) lined a one-out double to the right-field wall in the tenth inning to score Andrew Rivas (UC Riverside) from second, and send the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders home with a 2-1 win over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, their first win against the Rafters this year.

The win split the series between the two teams and saw the Dock Spiders improve to 26-23 on the year, and 7-8 in the second half. The Rafters fell to 40-10 on the year, and to 11-4 in the second half. With the win, the Dock Spiders jumped above the Lakeshore Chinooks and Wausau Woodchucks for second-place overall in the division.

The game started as a pitcher’s duel, as neither Dock Spiders starter David Hagaman (West Virginia) nor Rafters starter Grant Manning (Chapman) allowed a run over the first five innings. The Rafters would get on the board in the sixth when Garrett Broussard (Utah Valley) drove home the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to center.

In the seventh inning, the Dock Spiders would tie the game on a 411-foot solo home run from Branden Comia (Illinois). The home run was the longest home run from a Dock Spiders player this season. The next batter, Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss), would line a single to left field at 111 MPH, the sixth-hardest hit ball by anyone in the Northwoods League this year.

Nate Leibold (UCLA) would hold the Rafters scoreless in the seventh and eighth, and Garner Spoljaric (Embry-Riddle) would strike out three straight batters after two reached in the ninth. In the bottom half of the inning, the Dock Spiders would put the winning run at third with one out, but back-to-back strikeouts from Connor Kurki (Coastal Carolina) sent the Dock Spiders to extra-innings for the third straight game.

In the top of the tenth, Spoljaric went back to the hill and stranded the go-ahead run at third base with a pop-out to second and a groundout to shortstop. Then, the Dock Spiders would have two chances at the winning run in the bottom half. Comia was thrown out at the plate after a single from Cole Messina (South Carolina) to right. The Dock Spiders would score on the very next play when Smith slammed a double to the wall in right field for the win.

Spoljaric (1-2) earned the win for the Dock Spiders, and Tanner Chafin (0-1, LaGrange) took the loss for the Rafters.

The Dock Spiders continue the home-stand tomorrow night in the first of a two-game series with the Wausau Woodchucks. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. on Hispanic Heritage Night. The Dock Spiders will wear special alternate jerseys and hats. The hats will be available for purchase in the Team Store and the jerseys will be available via auction to benefit the Moraine Park Foundation. Plus, the first 500 fans through the gates will receive an Arañas de Muelle drawstring bag courtesy of Moraine Park Technical College.

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’ 28th 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 280 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 (NYM), 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 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at watchnwl.com. For more information, visit dockspiders.com 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.