Chinooks Beat Rafters, Clinch Playoff Berth
The Lakeshore Chinooks defeated the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 8-3 on Saturday night.
The win clinched a playoff spot for the Chinooks for the second year in a row!
Currently, the Chinooks have the four seed in the playoffs, which means they face the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the first round, and if they win, face the winner of Battle Creek and Rockford in round two.
However, if the Chinooks win tomorrow, and Rockford loses, the Chinooks would have the three seed and head to Battle Creek for game one of the playoffs. Then, Rockford would come to Wisconsin Rapids. A brutal schedule for both Lakeshore and Rockford considering the Chinooks are already in Wisconsin Rapids and Rockford is in Kalamazoo.
In tonight's action, the Chinooks got started immediately in the top of the first. A Joe Duncan single, Matthew Mika walk, and Rylan Thomas single loaded the bases for Daniel DeSimone, who was only just beginning what would turn out to be a big day for the 6’4 right-handed power bat from Oklahoma State.
DeSimone sent a chopper to the left side of the infield and used a tool we don’t normally see, his speed, to beat out the throw and allow Duncan to score the first run of the game.
But, the Rafters are first and half division champs for a reason, they bounced back in the bottom of the first with a run of their own after two singles and a Ryan Stekl sac fly made it 1-1 after the first inning.
Though, the Rafters pitchers couldn’t seem to find any success today against the power-packed Chinooks offense.
After struggles in the top of the first, Rafters starter, Nick Avilan, who the Chinooks faced earlier this summer in a one inning relief appearance, exited after throwing almost thirty pitches. But, his relief, Tevita Gerber, didn't fare much better in the top of the second.
Gerber gave up three earned runs via RBI singles from Thomas, Duncan, and DeSimone and used over the maximum 35 pitches. So, his day was done as well.
The scoring settled down until the top of the 5th after Chinooks starter and Rafters reliever Garret McGraw combined for five straight zeroes.
That’s where McGraw’s zero streak would end. A Matthew Mika RBI double and Rylan Thomas single plated two runs, though the Chinooks potential third run of the inning, Mika, was thrown out trying to score on the Thomas single.
Tim DalPorto added to the Lakeshore total in the top of the seventh with a solo homer that scraped past the left field fence, his first homer of the summer, to extend the lead to 7-1.
The Rafters got that run back in the bottom of the sixth after Austin Havekost got into some trouble. He loaded the bases and allowed a sac fly, but he eventually worked out of the jam with some help from Marshall Oetting.
Havekost ended his day, another stellar performance, with 5.2 innings, five hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
He’s now allowed just 6 earned runs and 16 hits since the start of July, a total of 43 innings, and set his season ERA at an impressive 2.73.
The CHinooks got one more run in the top of the 7th via a Rylan Thomas line-drive homer to right field, his 10th of the season, to extend the lead to 8-2.
That’d be all the scoring the Chinooks would need. After Oetting exited after the eighth, Josh Serio came in, and even though he gave up a run, closed the door for an 8-3 Chinooks win.
The Chinooks face the Rafters again tomorrow for the regular season finale. First pitch is slated at 5:05 with Aaron Winkler on the mound.
However, Winkler could now be flexed to a start on Monday. With the playoffs already in hand and a lack of starting pitcher arms, tomorrow could conceivably be a bullpen game.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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, more than 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.