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Rafters Team Report: March 21 – March 27

Mar21-Mar27(Pictured: LHP Jake Repavich of Grand Canyon University. Photo courtesy Grand Canyon University Athletics)

The Rafters Team Report will be your weekly update on the Spring season's of your 2016 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. Be sure to check back each week for a new update.

March 21 – March 27: Strong Offensive Weeks For Future Rafters Lumley, Woodcock

By: Cooper Perkins

As the onset of the summer campaign nears closer with each passing week, the members of the squad continue their college seasons in search of a momentum to carry them into Northwoods League play. Per usual, the past week was highlighted by a series of outstanding performances by members of the 2016 Rafter roster as things continue to heat up around the country.

All the way out in the Pacific Northwest, the University of Washington ushered in a daunting three-game series against the nationally ranked University of Oregon. The highlight of the weekend for catcher Joey Morgan came on Thursday night as the sophomore smashed his second home run of the season and helped lift the Huskies to a 9-6 victory in extra innings. Throughout the course of the Dawgs’ series win over their rivals from Eugene, Morgan found himself constantly on base as he finished the weekend with four runs scored. Morgan now is batting at a .296 clip in 20 appearances and has walloped two home runs, pushed across nine RBI, and scored 11 runs. After being hit by a pitch for the fifth time this season, Morgan is now the team leader in the bruising category of hit by pitches.

Grand Canyon, the pre-season favorites to win the WAC, endured a trying week as they only managed to split four games throughout the week, including a series loss to Utah Valley. Following a Tuesday night victory over UNLV, the Lopes returned home to Phoenix for the opening of WAC play and knocked off their visitors in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel spanning 11 innings. Looking to clinch the series, quick rising Rafter southpaw Jake Repavich toed the rubber on Thursday and turned in a solid performance despite earning a no-decision. While his squad eventually succumbed after a 12-inning marathon, Repavich struck out seven batters over six innings and scattered three runs on eight hits. Through seven starts, the Arizona native is 2-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 23 punch outs in 38.2 innings of labor. Repavich’s college teammate and returning Rafter Ethan Evanko did not see any action during the past week and watched his record stand pat.

Utah-based Dixie State was out of action until Monday when they hosted a mainland visit from Hawaii-Hilo and swept both games. In the front end, Storm ace Dylan File took the mound and had his most tired outing of the season as he lasted just five innings and did not factor into the decision, despite his team’s winning the game 11-5. File struggled to miss bats in his eighth start of the season as he surrendered five earned runs on 13 hits while striking out four. To this point in the campaign File owns a 3-0 record and a 2.70 ERA while having struck out 45 hitters in 50 innings on the mound.

As the NAIA’s twenty-first ranked Sterling College traveled to sixteenth-ranked Nebraska for a four-game bout of ranked foes, returning Rafter right-hander Jon Jaeger saw limited action and made just one appearance over the week. Working as a reliever during the second half of Monday’s double header, Jaeger pitched the final 0.2 of Sterling’s blowout win, with both outs coming via strikeout. In nine appearances, including five starts, Jaeger has managed a 4.74 ERA and has piled up a 4-1 record in addition to 26 strikeouts in 24.2 innings pitched. Through 33 games the Warriors are now a resounding 25-8.

After a nightmarish beginning to the season that saw them begin 2016 on a 12-game skid, SIU-Edwardsville has rebounded to go 4-4 in its last eight games, including a split of four home games last week. Following an offensive explosion on Tuesday night against St. Louis in which SIU-Edwardsville outscored the Billikens by a count of 9-8, the Cougars managed to take one of three from visiting Tennessee Tech. Former Freshman All-American and returning Rafter Dustin Woodcock enjoyed a fruitful week as he recorded a hit in all four contests and punctuated his performance with three hits against St. Louis. In the four games, the sophomore outfielder hit .352 (6-17) with a double, a walk, two runs batted in, and his first home run of the season. With the strong week Woodcock elevated his season batting average to .320 and increased his totals to one home run, eight RBI, and six runs scored.

With a 21-game stretch of road games to start the season finally behind them, the Valparaiso Crusaders eagerly returned to Indiana for their home opener against Wright State. Immediately following a three-game sweep of conference adversary Northern Kentucky, Valpo failed to capture the same success against the Raiders as they dropped two of three to their visitors. The weekend proved to be quiet for both future Rafters Scott Kapers and Montana Quigley as neither player offered much to write home about. Kapers, a true freshman catcher, had a difficult weekend at the plate, but did impact the game in the field by gunning down a pair of potential base stealers in the back half of Saturday’s double header. Across the three games, Kapers recorded just a hit and drove in his tenth RBI of the year. Quigley, however, did not see action against Wright State.

A busy week for Purdue was confined to the Hoosier State as the Boilermakers traveled to Muncie, Indiana for a Tuesday night matchup against Ball State before welcoming seventh-ranked Louisville and conference opponent Nebraska to West Lafayette. The week proved to be one to forget for the Purdue pitching staff as their opposition netted at least nine runs in all five contests, eventually culminating in a winless week. Across the two weekday games, true freshman third baseman Jacson McGowan was rendered hitless, despite reaching base twice on walks and coming across to score once. McGowan was held out of the lineup in all three games against the Cornhuskers, marking the first action he has missed to this point in the season.

The state of Ohio was the setting for yet another phenomenal performance from returning Rafter right-hander Jay Peters and UW-Milwaukee. Following a rainout on Thursday, the Panthers sprinted through a three-game sweep of Youngstown State, highlighted by the best start of Peters’ season. En route to finishing on top of a 1-0 pitcher’s duel, Peters dazzled through 8.2 innings of shutout ball as he scattered just five hits and three walks, while striking out six. The outstanding performance evened the junior’s record at 2-2 and dropped his ERA to 2.37 in a team-leading 38 innings.

Not far from the site of Peters’s gem, Damien Richard and Garrett Schilling joined their Xavier University teammates in a Tuesday date with Ohio State and a three-game weekend series against Cincinnati. After sitting out the first three games, Schilling and Richard both logged time in Saturday’s outing against Cincinnati. Richard, a true sophomore from Ohio, allowed just one run in two innings on the mound, while striking out two before passing the torch to his fellow future Rafter, Schilling. Firmly entrenched as the Musketeers’ closer, Shilling fired two scoreless innings and struck out a pair to earn the save in Xavier’s only win of the week. The save was his fourth of 2016 and his ERA has dipped all the way to 1.98.

After laying waste to James Madison in a 15-6 drubbing on Tuesday, Virginia endured a difficult series loss to seventh-ranked Louisville on the road in Kentucky. In the split week, neither future Rafter Doak Dozier nor Jon Meola saw the field as each freshman was confined to the bench.

With infielder Jake Lumley leading the way for the Canisius attack, the Griffins swept all four games on their slate to run their current winning streak to six games. Lumley, who persevered through a frustrating beginning to the season, continued his explosive play as he recorded a hit in all four games and posted multi-hit performances in three. The junior roped the ball at a .600 pace (9-15) including a double and a triple, while also piling up four walks, six RBI, and seven runs scored. The pinnacle of Lumley’s weekend came in Thursday’s win as he finished four-for-six with his first triple of the season, two runs scored, and a run batted in. With his continued hot hitting, Lumley now sits atop the Canisius lineup with a .319 batting average, 13 runs scored, and eight RBI. Fellow future Rafter pitcher Josh Shepley did not see action for the first time this year as his statistics remained unchanged.

In the wake of a Tuesday night drubbing at the hands of top-ranked Texas A&M, the Islanders of Texas A&M Corpus Christi tripped to the southeast looking to get back on track against Southeastern Louisiana in a conference clash. Much to the chagrin of Chris Cooper and company, the boys from Texas came up short and managed a total of just one run in a clean sweep. Across the four games, the right-hander out of Arizona appeared twice and fired 4.1 innings, allowing three runs and two walks despite striking out three. Through nine appearances, Cooper has started three times and piled up a 1-1 record, a save, 16 strikeouts, and a 2.82 ERA.

Just a shade to the east, Alabama State took on a four-game slate that included a weekday road matchup with the SEC’s Auburn Tigers and a three-game SWAC showdown with Alcorn State at home. At the weekend’s close, the Hornets finished with a 3-1 record having fallen to Auburn and handily swept their visitors as they outscored Alcorn State by a combined tally of 28-1 over the three contests. Continuing his role off the bench, outfielder Joseph Estrada appeared in two of the four games as a defensive substitution, going hitless in two at-bats.

Concluding the week’s action in South Florida were the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats as they took on a schedule of five games, most notably a narrow 5-4 loss to highly ranked Miami. At the close of their week, the Wildcats boasted a win over North Florida and took two of three in a conference matchup with North Carolina A&T in Daytona Beach. Starting shortstop and incumbent Rafter Demetrius Sims enjoyed a successful week as he piled up five hits, including a double, in 12 at-bats, while also drawing a pair of walks, scoring twice, driving in two runs, and swiping a couple of bases. Following his strong week, Sims now owns a .228 batting average, 17 runs scored, seven RBI, and five stolen bases.

The home opener for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters is June 1st at 7:05 against the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Solarus Founders Club, bleacher 9-Game ticket packages, and group outing packages are on sale now. Call 715-424-5400 or stop by the Rafters Front Office Monday-Friday from 9-5 to purchase a ticket package or book a group outing.