Second half of series offers chance to build division lead
Rockford, IL – The first-place Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (14-8) will return to action Friday night in Illinois for the back half of their two-game road series against the Rockford Rivets (11-11). Following their 6-1 victory on Wednesday, the Rafters catapulted into first place in the South Division, now 1/2 game ahead of the Madison Mallards.
At 14-8, the Rafters have continued their franchise-best start to the season, climbing to six games over .500 for the first time this year. With wins in six of their previous seven games, the Rafters will look to again piece together a complete performance against a Rivet club that has combined light hitting with strong pitching throughout the season. Rockford, owners of the second-lowest team batting average in the Northwoods League (.226), is tasked with facing Rafter right-hander Dylan File (Dixie State).
A rising junior, File will make his fourth appearance of the summer and his third start. To this point, the Utah native has enjoyed a productive season to the tune of a perfect 1-0 record and a 2.57 ERA. In his most recent outing, File worked five innings against the Kalamazoo Growlers on June 17 in a 4-1 Rafter win. Despite striking out a season-high seven and allowing just one run on five hits and a walk, File did not factor into the decision. Through 14 innings, File has commanded the strike zone win accuracy and consistency, piling up 16 strikeouts compared to just three free passes.
File will be met by towering Rivet right-hander Tyler Thornton (Tennessee Wesleyan), who makes his second start and fourth overall appearance. Standing at 6’5”, Thornton is an imposing figure on the mound, but has not been able to translate his frame into consistent success this summer. With no record to note, Thornton has a 4.65 ERA and has posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 10-to-5 in 9 2/3 innings on the mound. Most recently, Thornton received ample support from the Rivet order in his June 17 start against the Lakeshore Chinooks, in which he allowed five runs (four earned) in a four-inning no-decision. Thanks to 10 runs of backing, the Rivets managed to win Thornton’s latest outing by a score of 10-6.
Looking down at the rest of the South Division for the first time this season, the Rafters currently enjoy a 1/2 game lead over the Madison Mallards (14-9). Thursday night’s ballgame marks the second of six consecutive dates away from Witter Field, as the Rafters look to build their resume away from Wisconsin Rapids.
First pitch at Rivets Stadium is slated for 6:35 p.m., with coverage on WFHR 1320 AM beginning at 6:20 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, 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 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 portal. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Rafters as your favorite team.