Chris Cooper looks to stay unbeaten against first-place Growlers
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – In the midst of a six-game home stand, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (8-7) will welcome the first-place Kalamazoo Growlers (11-5) to Witter Field on Thursday night for the first of four consecutive meetings between the clubs. Taking the ball for the Rafters will be right-hander Chris Cooper (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) for his third start of the season. Cooper, a redshirt sophomore, has picked up victories in each of his first two outings as a Rafter and has limited scoring to the tune of a 0.81 ERA. He will be countered by Tanner Andrews (Purdue), who makes his third start of the season as well, entering play with a 1-1 record and a 5.22 ERA.
After a frustrating season in 2015, the Growlers have enjoyed a hot start over the first 16 games of their slate, including a seven-game winning streak that came to an end earlier this week. Kalamazoo is led by outfielder Dan Robinson (Central Michigan), who enters play boasting a league-best .442 batting average. The Growlers, who have hit only three home runs to this point, feature aggressive base running and timely hitting in their formula for offensive success. Leading the charge on the base paths is infielder Connor Kopach, who leads the Northwoods League with 14 stolen bases, having been caught only twice.
The Growler running game creates an intriguing strength versus strength matchup with the Rafters, who have been among the best in the league at controlling base runners and limiting stolen bases. Catcher Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) has thrown out 85.7% of would-be base stealers this season, as he leads a strong group of Rafter catchers that have played well collectively.
At the plate, the Rafters will look to recapture their form from Tuesday night’s game in which they rallied to plate the final nine runs of the evening and come from behind to beat the Madison Mallards. Entering tonight’s action, third baseman Patrick Cromwell rides a 14-game on-base streak.
First pitch between the Rafters and the Growlers is slated for 7:05 p.m., with gates opening at 6:05 p.m.
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, more than 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. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com.