With near record-heat looming in the Milwaukee area, Chinooks fans knew it was cooler by the lakeshore and the beer and Robinade was cold at Kapco Park where the Chinooks ousted the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 9-1 Thursday night. The night’s match-up featured the controlled pitching of Chris Cotton (LSU), who collected the win tonight, pitching 5 innings, while allowing only one run, a solo homer, in the 3rd.
Cotton, who has now allowed only 1 run in 10 innings of work over two starts, walked only 1 batter while striking out 3. “Cotton’s a competitor, I love everything about him. He knows how to pitch, he knows how field his position, he knows how to control the running game. He’s a gamer, when you need a big pitch, he can do that for you. When you have a guy like that on the mound you’ve got a chance,” said Head Coach John Vodenlich.
Vodenlich also added “We played a good game overall and we didn’t stop. The last couple games we had the lead going into late innings and we couldn’t capitalize and get more runs or we couldn’t hold the lead. Tonight we went from start to finish. We’re looking like a real baseball team.”
The Chinooks worked hard to provide steady run support after succumbing to 1-run losses the last 2 nights in La Crosse. Zack Granite (Seton Hall) started the game off with a lead off walk that would later score on an RBI single to right by Ty Young (Louisville). Bre’ Kimbell (Louisiana Tech) also added a base hit and scored in the inning.
German Reyes (Winston-Salem State) kept the bats going in the 2nd with a lead-off ground-rule double that one-bounced the center field wall. Reyes stole 3rd and was driven home by Nate Ruzich (South Suburban) who singled up center field. Granite reached next on a fielder’s choice before Forrest Chadwick (Southern Maine) drove him home on a slicing liner to right field.
Down 4-0, the Rafters only run of the game came on a solo home run by Austin Neary to deep center field. Jordan Dreiling nearly reached to lead off the inning, but a diving catch by Eric Aguilera (Illinois State) kept off the additional base runner that would have scored on the home run by Neary.
The Rafters put a string of base runners together in the 4th and sent Michael Jurgella home on a wild pitch by Cotton. Ruzich was able to track down the ball and flip it back to Cotton who got the tag at home. Rafters Manager Jake Martin disagreed with the call and was ejected by home plate umpire Zach Tieche. The Chinooks closed out the inning by catching Brandon Hohl in a pickle between second and third, and a bunt by Eric Loxtercamp who was thrown out at first.
The Chinooks tacked on an additional run in the 4th and 5th as Reyes and Young both scored after hitting a double and being hit-by-pitch, respectively. Reyes was driven in by the very next batter, Scott Wilcox (Western Kentucky), who tried for a triple, but was tagged out at third. Young was driven home on an RBI single by Ryan Krill (Michigan State).
Rafters starting pitcher, Tommy Organ was chased in the 5th after allowing 8 hits, equaling 6 runs. Shane Adler came in to finish out the fifth inning and recorded 2 quick outs.
Nick Soldano (North Park) got the call from the bullpen in the 6th with a 6-1 lead and the Rafters came out hitting. Joshua Cyr singled on a full count but was picked off at first with Jurgella batting. Jurgella followed with a double over the head of Aguilera that would have likely scored Cyr. Brandon Hohl followed with a pop out to the catcher, Ruzich, to end the inning with no damage.
The Rafters put up their biggest rally attempt in the 7th as two singles and a walk loaded that bases. Soldano struck out Dreiling and got Pat Kelly to pop out for the first two outs of the inning. With one out remaining and the bases loaded, Neary, who homered earlier in the game came up to bat. After fighting to a full count, Neary swung through ball four to strike out and end the inning.
Reyes kept the steady run support going in the 7th with his first home run of the year; a deep shot over the right-centerfield wall. The Chinooks tacked on 2 additional runs in the 8th on a single by Aguilera that drove in Granite and Kimbell. Aguilera’s 2 hits upped his consecutive hit streak to 9 games.
Keaton Steele (Missouri) came in to close out the game by pitching a scoreless 8th and 9th.
The Chinooks are back against the Rafters tomorrow night at Kapco Park in Mequon with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05pm.