Smith Salvages Score Late but Woodchucks Fall 6-3
Tim Hackett, Broadcasting Intern
Wausau, Wis.- The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters were clearly frustrated about losing their first game since June 1 4-2 to the Wisconsin Woodchucks Saturday night. Led by another strong pitching performance from their ace and production from some likely sources, Rapids (17-2) bounced back from its streak-breaking loss with a convincing 6-3 victory over the Woodchucks (6-13) Sunday afternoon.
The first inning has been troublesome all season for Wisconsin, and that trend continued Sunday. With one out in the first, Chucks starter DJ Morland walked Bryson Stott and Dustin Woodcock and hit Ryan Stekl to load the bases. Stott scored on a single and Woodcock scored on a fielder’s choice to push the visitors out to a 2-0 lead.
Morland didn’t allow anything else but departed after four frames. Erik Gutierrez came in and allowed Stekl to double in the fifth. Two batters later, Jake Guenther launched a two-run shot, his first of the year, to right field to extend the lead to four. Rapids added an unearned run off Gutierrez in the sixth on a Stott single to make it 5-0. Daniel Sprinkle and Armando Gonzalez both pitched scoreless innings, but an error allowed one run to cross against Payton Coffman in the ninth.
The Rafters looked to be well on their way to their fourth shutout of the year. Start Jack Eagan was excellent through six, allowing just three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts, his best outing of the year. The Chucks couldn’t score in the seventh and eighth, and Layne Henderson came on to pitch the ninth. The hard-throwing righty hadn’t allowed a hit or a run all year and was brought in the shut the door.
He did not. Chad Fleischman began the ninth with a single, and then Brady Lindsly followed with one, his first Woodchucks hit. Then up stepped Andrew Smith. Fresh off a three-run performance the previous night, the right fielder blasted his first home run of the season over the left field fence to make the score 6-3. Wisconsin would get no closer, however, and Rapids picked up its league-best 17th win of the season.
Monday is an off day for both teams, but they’ll both be back to Athletic Park on Tuesday for the first half of a home-and-home doubleheader. First pitch in Wausau is slated for 11:35 AM.
Tickets are on sale to all Wisconsin Woodchucks home games and the 2017 Northwoods League Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, presented by Ascension. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling 715.845.5055 or by stopping by the Woodchucks front office during normal business hours.