(Pictured: Matt McClain. Photo courtesy of St. Mary's University Athletics)
Powers Bats and a Smooth Throwing Lefty Complement an Already Deep Roster
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.- The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters gained a trio of late additions as the start of the season nears. First baseman Cullen Gassaway (Arkansas), left-handed pitcher Matt McClain (St. Mary’s University), and infielder Erik Payne (Virginia Tech) have signed contracts to join the Rafters and look to make an impact during the 2014 campaign.
“We are excited to add three quality players as the season draws near and I look for each to make a meaningful impact for us this season,” said Rafters general manager John Fanta.
IF – Erik Payne – 6’2” 205 lbs (R/R) Junior
Payne will re-join the Rafters for his second season after appearing in 53 games a year ago when he batted .230 and drove in 34 runs, while ranking third on the team with 11 home runs. He will be anxiously looking to add to that total after sitting out his spring season due to his transfer from South Carolina to Virginia Tech. A season ago, Payne was also a participant in the Northwoods League All-Star festivities as he competed in the Home Run Derby. The Richmond, Virginia native is majoring in business finance at Virginia Tech.
1B – Cullen Gassaway – 6’3” 210 lbs (R/R) Sophomore
Gassaway brings a little bit of everything to the table as he enters his first season with the Rafters. He has flashed a versatile skill set throughout his 2014 campaign with Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. Gassaway leads the Buccaneers in doubles (20) and home runs (7), sits second on the team in both OBP(.400) and SLG (.557), and has shown prowess on the bases to the tune of seven stolen bases. At one point in the season, he racked up a seven-game hitting streak where he batted .522 (12-for-23), scored five runs, brought in 12 RBIs, and collected four doubles and two home runs. Gassaway will be heading to the University of Arkansas in the fall to continue his baseball career. The Bedford, Texas native and future engineer is no stranger to success after being named a NJCAA All-Star as a freshman.
LHP – Matt McClain – 6’0” 190 lbs (L/L) Junior
Matt McClain will join the Rafters after having already thrown a complete game, no-hitter where he struck out 12 batters on February 21st against conference foe, Rogers State. The Division II St. Mary’s University product threw his school’s first no-hitter since 2007 and only its second in the last 12 years. He currently carries a 3.64 ERA, 8-5 record, and a .241 batting average against in 96.1 innings pitched over the course of the 2014 season. His success continued to carry over from his 2013 sophomore campaign when he maintained a 2.34 ERA, finished fifth in the nation in strikeouts with 108 in 107.2 innings, and earned a second-team Heartland All-Conference award. The Woodlands, Texas native saw similar results in his freshman season, fanning 18 batters in 18.1 innings pitched. He is currently majoring in exercise and sports science.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 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 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.