Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. — Lights out pitching leads the way for Lakeshore as pitchers Ben Cruikshank and Westin Muir shut down Wisconsin Rapids hitters in 6-1 victory.
Following Sunday afternoons cancellation due to a torrential downpour in Mequon, the Lakeshore Chinooks (11-10) made the two and a half hour trek to Wisconsin Rapids, to take on the Rafters (11-10).
Making his fourth start of the season, Cruikshank threw four innings on four strikeouts, allowing just one hit and one run in his outing.
After retiring the first six batters he faced, Cruikshank walked the first two batters he faced in the top of the third inning, resulting in the first and only run for the Rafters to score, following a sacrifice fly from Wisconsin Rapids’ Sterling Hayes.
“My mentality was just pound the strike zone and then my go to pitch was my changeup.” Cruikshank said. “ It’s been fun pitching with them[pitching rotation] and throwing with them every day. I’ve learned a lot from the guys, Bladen Bales and Ryan Colegate as well.”
Lakeshore’s lineup featured two players who were previously sidelined due to injury. Returning to the starting nine was Josh Glenn, who suffered an elbow injury just three games into the season and Ethan Vecrumba, who missed the team’s last few games, nursing a lower body injury.
Not only did these two return, but so did the bat of first baseman Griffin Doersching, who prior to Monday night, faced some real adversity at the plate. Struggling to find his rhythm at the dish as of late, Doersching entered Monday night after batting in Lakeshore’s only run Sunday afternoon.
Doersching reminded Wisconsin Rapids pitcher Collin Kiernan of his power at the plate, scorching a solo shot to center field in the top of the seventh inning. After starting out the season with a quick four home runs, including a three game stretch where Doersching went yard in each, the first basemen played 11 straight games without going yard.
On Monday night, Doersching batted 3-4 with two singles, a home run and was hit by a pitch in his winning effort.
“It felt really good to be successful at the plate today.” Doersching said. “It was just a reminder that you can’t ride the rollercoaster of baseball. The highs can’t be too high and the lows can’t be too low. Shout out to Dints.”
Recently named to the first team All-Horizon League team a week ago, Doersching credited his Peak Performance coach at Northern Kentucky, Steve Dintaman, for his positive approach to each game he plays, no matter his results on the field.
Doersching and the Lakeshore offense started off slow, finding themselves in a 1-0 hole heading into the fifth inning. Thanks to the high quality performances from Cruikshank and Muir, the Chinooks were never out of striking distance.
Capitalizing on a Rafter error in the top of the fifth inning, the Chinooks plated two runs on just one hit, taking the lead 2-1 and never looked back.
Lifting Cruikshank in the bottom of the fifth inning, University of Wisconsin Whitewater hurler and Lakeshore bullpen personality, Westin Muir picked up right where Cruikshank left off, shutting down the Rafter offense in his five innings of work.
Muir pitched the final five frames of the ball game, conceding just two hits and adding five strikeouts while walking zero batters.
Feeding off the lights out pitching, the explosive Lakeshore attack added two runs in the sixth inning, followed by a run in each of the seventh and eighth frames, controlling the game 6-1.
Leaving the Rafters with little for error, Muir never faced more than five hitters in an inning, pitching 1-2-3 frames in three out of his five innings on the mound.
Down to their final three outs of the game, Muir left closed the door on the Rafter offense and the chance of any late game controversy, earning his second win on the season and completing the 6-1 Chinook victory.
Lakeshore completes their two-game series against the Rafters Tuesday night with hopes of continuing Monday night’s momentum. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.