Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.-It’s opening week in the Northwoods League, presented by Edvest. Following a rainout in Wausau last night, the Rafters returned home to take on the Madison Mallards (5-0). For the second consecutive evening, the Rats were unable to avoid the rain and were plagued by a short delay in the bottom of the third inning. The Mallards were not phased by the rain, however, as they won 11-1 and sank the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (2-2) on ‘Sandlot Night’ at Witter Field.
Madison opened the scoring early with four runs in the first inning off of Vinny Santarsiero (Fontbonne University) in his first start Rafters. Matt Vierling plated the first run for the visitors with an RBI single followed by a three-run homer from cleanup hitter Lucas Halstead.
The Mallards kept the runs flowing with back-to-back home runs in the third inning. Nate Palace launched a 2-run home run over the left-center field wall, followed by a Sam Armstrong solo shot to the exact same spot. That long ball was part of a 3-for-3 night for Armstrong that saw him reach base safely five times. The Mallards managed to mash a whopping 17 hits in the game.
Santarsiero finished just 2 and 1/3 innings, while allowing nine hits and being charged with nine earned runs. Enrique Zamora (Calumet College of St. Joseph) relieved Santarsiero and pitched a respectable 4.2 innings, while allowing just one run and striking out six.
Mallards starter Heath Renz was pulled due after the rain delay to the Rats joy. Upon Renz’s departure, the Rafters ended the Mallards’ bid at a shutout on an Jake Lumley (Canisius College) RBI sacrifice fly. That was the only run the Rafters could manage as their only other scoring chance they had was cut down at home on an outfield assist by centerfielder Cameron Frost. A quiet night for the Rats offense produced just one run on five hits.
The Rats will play host once again to the Mallards tomorrow in the second game of the four-game series between the two clubs. First pitch is set for 4:05 PM with gates opening at 3:05 PM.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2016, 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, over 150 former 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 (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com.