Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin – After a tough loss last night, the Chinooks were hoping to get back to their winning ways at Wisconsin Rapids against the Rafters. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as the Rafters proved why they’re the best team in the Northwoods League. In one of the last few games of the 1st half, the Rafters made a statement by dismantling the Chinooks 15-1. The Chinooks were tied for 2nd with three other teams in the Great Lakes West division heading into the game. The Rafters made what potentially could be the 2nd best team in the division look weak.
Mitch Alba started tonight for the Chinooks and had a 1-0 record with a 0.96 ERA entering the game. Alba was just a bit off tonight and didn’t have his great stuff against the impressive Rafters lineup. Alba got into some trouble in the 1st inning with runners at 1st and 2nd. On a wild pitch with some poor defense, both runners scored to give the Rafters a 2-0 lead. Chris Conniff was one of the leading hitters for the Rafters with 3 hits. He had a double that led to him scoring and getting the Rafters up to 3-0 in the 3rd inning.
The bottom of the 4th changed the game and the Chinooks couldn’t get back. Alba struggled with his command and gave up some walks that led to Xander Rojahn coming in to replace him with the bases loaded. Rojahn walked Ben Ross which was one of his four walks at the plate. Ross is the best overall hitter in the Northwoods League this season. Besides his four walks, he also went 1 for 2 with 3 RBIs. His season stats are insane with an .434 batting average, 7 home runs, 29 RBIs, and an on-base percentage of .519. Ross should hear his name get called during the MLB Draft in a couple of weeks.
Still in the bottom of the 4th, the bases were loaded for Brendan Bobo. Bobo has been outstanding for the Rafters this season as well and smoked a grand slam over the right-field wall. The Rafters had an 8-0 lead that they knew was pretty much safe. In the bottom of the 5th, Ross had another RBI walk that gave the Rafters another insurance run and up to 9-0. The 6th inning was another impressive showing by the Rafters offense. Harry Owen hit a 3-run homer to center field in a six-run inning that gave the Rafters an enormous run difference and a 15-1 lead.
Rafters pitching was excellent as starting pitcher Grant Manning only gave up 1 hit and had 3 strikeouts in his 3 innings pitched. Nathan Hemmerling was solid as well in his 3 innings pitched. Hemmerling did give up 3 hits, 3 walks, and the lone Chinooks run, but limited the damage. Matt Deprey was the only offense for the Chinooks tonight with a solo home run in the top of the 6th. That was his 5th home run of the season and his batting average is still amazing at .393.
The Chinooks will hope to get back on track as they play game two of the series against the Rafters Saturday night. The two teams meet again at Witter Field in a Great Lakes West division battle. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35pm.