Rafters Win Season Opener; Second Game Suspended
Mother Nature still not cooperating with Wisconsin Rapids
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters earned their first Opening Day win in franchise history, defeating the Woodchucks 13-4 in the first game of a doubleheader at historic Witter Field . Adam Hall (Xavier University) picked up his first win for the Rafters throwing 4.2 innings and striking out four in route to the 13-4 victory. Timely hitting was key for the Rafters, who scored 10 of their 13 runs with two outs. Blake Molitor (Illinois State) and Kyle Devin (Rhode Island) combined to go 7-for-8 with three RBI’s.
In the second game of the twinbilling, the Rafters were trailing 5-1 after four inning before the game was delayed for rain and eventually suspended. The two teams will resume the game when the Woodchucks return to Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., on July 6 prior to the regularly scheduled 7:05 p.m. game that night.
The Rafters will hit the road for the next two games as they head west to La Crosse, Wis., where they will play the La Crosse Loggers in back-to-back days at Copeland Park. The first pitch for both games is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Game 1: Rafters 13, Woodchucks 4
The Rafters got things going after Woodchuck pitcher Kaylor Chafin retired the first five hitters of the game. It started when Molitor reached on an error to start the Rafter rally in the second inning. Devin and Max Widmar (Parkland College) followed the error with a pair of singles to load the bases. With Casey Danley (Illinois Central) batting, a wild pitch from Chafin allowed Molitor to score, then back-to-back walks to Danley and Jake Sandlin (Georgia College) gave the Rafters their second run in the inning and a 2-0 lead.
Wisconsin Rapids got the bats going again with two outs in the third, scoring four runs on a pair of two-RBI doubles. Sam Tolleson (Central Florida) was the first of six Rafters hitters to reach with a walk, followed by a single from Molitor. Devin then roped a double down the right field line, scoring a pair. After Widmar added his second single of the day, Danley hit a laser to left center for the second two-RBI double of inning, giving the Rafters a 6-0 lead.
The Woodchucks cut the Rafter lead in half in the top of the fifth as three walks came around to score on a wild pitch, passed ball and single from Woodchuck third baseman Ryan Day. Derek Kawlewski relieved Hall with two outs in the fifth and finished it off by inducing a fly out to right field.
The Rafters responded to the Woodchuck rally in a big way, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the fifth and adding 3 more in the sixth. Nick Nelsen (Iowa Western CC) came in to pitch in the seventh to end the game, surrendering one run en route to a 13-4 final.
Hall picked up the win, going 4.2 innings, allowing three runs on two hits, while striking out four and walking six. Chafin took the loss for the Woodchucks, going three innings, allowing six runs (four earned) on six hits, with one strikeout and three walks.
Game 2: Woodchucks 5, Rafters 1 (Suspended; situation: top of the 5th, no on, none out)
The Woodchucks played the role as the aggressors in game two, scoring four runs and batting around in the in second. Max Ponzurick led off the inning with a laser over the wall in left center for a solo home run. The next five hitters reached base, scoring three more runs before John Jaeger struck out two straight Woodchucks and induced a ground ball to first to get out of the inning.
Molitor matched Ponzurick’s blast, hitting a nearly identical home run in the bottom half of the second to chip into the four run Woodchuck lead, making it 4-1.
Wisconsin added a run in the third when a hit batter came around to score on a couple of Rafter errors, but relief pitcher Michael Austin (Bethune Cookman) kept the damage to a minimum when he worked his way out of a bases loaded jam with a strike out.
After a brief delay before the fourth inning for lightning, the game was eventually suspended prior to the fifth inning with the Rafters trailing 5-1.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, 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 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.