Rafters Jump Out Early, Hold On For Victory


Bullpen Provides Relief

Box Score

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.- The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (17-27, 5-4) and Madison Mallards (24-20, 6-5) continued their trend of playing tightly contested games as the Rafters outlasted Madison 6-5. With the win, Wisconsin Rapids guaranteed at least a split of the season series between the two teams with their fourth win over the Mallards in six games.

Heading into the game, there was potential for a pitchers duel with frontline starters Nick Blackburn (Illinois) and Sterling Sharp (Eastern Michigan) going for the Rafters and the Mallards. However, what ensued was a wild first couple of innings where both teams scored in three of the first four innings that they batted. The Rafters padded their cushion enough early on to hold the lead throughout the game as they were once again aided by the hot bat of Keelin Rasch (Louisana Monroe). Rasch was one of three Rafters to pick up RBIs in the top of the 2nd, his seventh RBI of the series.

Blackburn battled through his start, as he pitched into the 6th inning but was lifted after giving up a two run home run to Austin Barr (Stanford). It was the second home run allowed by the righty on the evening as he struck out 4 but walked six. Blackburn’s night was still more effective then Sharp, who went 2.2 innings pitched while walking four and not striking out a single batter. Sharp came into the game with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks.

The bullpen for Wisconsin Rapids was masterful as Chip Rosales (Valley City State) and Derek Kawlewski (Rhode Island) went the final four innings only allowing one base hit. Kawlewski worked around an error to allow the leadoff man to reach in the bottom of the ninth as he slammed the door shut on his first save of the year.

Madison and the Rafters will do battle again tomorrow evening in game 5 of the 6 game series. First Pitch is scheduled for 6:05 pm.


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