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Chinooks Season Ends With Playoff Loss to Rafters

 

Wisconsin Rapids, WI- That’s it. The Lakeshore Chinooks season ended on Monday night after they fell to the top seeded Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 6-4 on Monday night.

It was an incredible ride, and there’s no real way to summarize 73 games in 600 words or less. In fact, there’s no point in even trying. This team created so many strong memories and impacted so many people over the course the season that words can’t possibly do them justice.

From Owen Miller’s cycles, Parker Sanburn’s equal parts dominance and quirkiness, Matthew Mika and Jack Dunn’s perfect pairing in the middle infield, Nick Gatewood and Zach Biermann causing terror from the left side, Rylan Thomas whopping monstrous home runs into the Robin’s Nest, Jacob Richardson’s surprising rise to one of the league’s best third basemen, the everyday fun-filled nature of the bullpen, and the approachable and genuine makeup of every single ballplayer to make their way through Mequon, it was truly unforgettable.

From all the fans, interns, and staff; thank you. Regardless of your role, guys like Kody Matthews and Erik Eggert who left in early June, or guys like Luke Sommerfeld, Austin Havekost, and Cole Gnetz, who’ve spent two full years in a Chinooks uniform, you made this team special. We saw almost 60 players suit up for this team, and you’ll all be remembered.

Despite the loss, tonight’s game was perfect. At times this team wanted to go home; they wanted to cash it in because of the long, demanding season that whittles away at both your physical and mental strength one pitch at a time. But, when they carried a 4-3 lead into the 8th inning, that dugout wanted to board the bus and head for Battle Creek, Michigan at 7:05 tomorrow evening. They #gothooked.

Unfortunately, those dreams were dashed almost as soon as they became a reality. With one out in the inning, Joe Heineman, who was throwing great, missed with a pitch off the outside corner. It seemed benign at the time, but that ball completely changed the game.

A cry came from the dugout. “Let’s go!” said the voice of Eddy Morgan, who’d been throwing a few vocal jabs here and there in the recent innings, but instead of ignoring the harmless slight, the umpire decided he’d heard enough. Eddy got wrung up, the fans got riled up, and the momentum harrowingly swung towards the Rafters.

Two pitches later, Ryan Stekl smashed a go-ahead two-run homer that gave the Rafters the lead and all but put the final nail in the coffin heading into the ninth. Adding insult to injury, Dustin Woodcock went back-to-back to make it a final 6-4 lead

A big shout out in this game goes to the Chinooks starter, Aaron Winkler. The right handed New York from Richmond, who came to the Chinooks late in the season, produced six phenomenal five hit, three-run innings to keep the high-powered Rafters at bay and put his ball club in line for a win.

Two other guys deserve shoutouts on the offensive side, Joe Duncan, and Brian Sobieski.

Though Duncan isn't the loudest or most noticeable Chinook, the lanky righty has been nothing but consistent, hard-working, and most importantly, kind. Tonight, he was 3-4 with a couple of excellent snags out in left field. He never gave up. Even last year, when the Chinooks were losing to Rapids by nine runs in the playoffs, he played his butt off until the final out.

Sobieski isn’t much different than Duncan. Each day, he shows up and does his work, but the difference lies in their intensity. Duncan is calm, cool and collected, almost gliding through his daily activities with an effortless finesse. Sobieski, from the day he showed up in May, to the day he retired in July, to now, he swings and plays as hard as humanly possible.

Tonight, he finished 2-4 with two walloped doubles into left field, and after the game he was angry he couldn't get an at-bat in the bottom of the ninth. He said that if he hadn't been left on deck, he would’ve tied that game up. I don’t doubt him.

Sobieski started the season in May and early June 1-23. Things couldn't get much worse from the DII catcher from Davenport, and unsurprisingly, he was waived. However, when he got the call in July from the Chinooks that they wanted him back, he didn't even consider saying no. He relished a second chance, and in his first game back, he went 3-4 with two doubles and a homer. That’s the guy Sobieski is. He plays hard, almost as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen.

Normally, this would be where I’d put tomorrow’s matchup, but since there is none, then this is officially goodbye. The Chinooks play again in 2018, see you all then.