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Rafters Come From Behind To Seal Sweep Of Rivets

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Four-run seventh sets table for extra-inning win

Box Score

Rockford, IL – Facing a 4-0 deficit in the top of the seventh inning, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (15-8) rallied to plate the final five runs of the game to win 5-4 and complete a two-game sweep of the Rockford Rivets (11-12) in front of a record crowd at Rivets Stadium on Friday night.

After mounting a mild threat in the top of the first inning, the Rafters watched the Rivets strike first in their half of the inning. In the midst of a bases-loaded, no-out jam, Dylan File (Dixie State) stiffened to strike out Michael Smith before surrendering a run-scoring single to Jacob Vander Wal one batter later. With the Rivets still threatening, File maneuvered the next two batters to strand the bases loaded and limit the damage to a single run. The costliness of File’s laborious inning, however, was far greater than the one run he allowed to score. Because File exceeded 35 pitches in the inning, he was prohibited from returning to the mound per Northwoods League rules, forcing the Rafters to turn to their bullpen for the remaining duration of the game.

Three innings later in the bottom of the fourth, the Rivets utilized a leadoff single and a two-out walk to mount a threat against Rafter reliever Jeff Fasching (Minnesota). The ensuing two Rivet hitters, Jordan Hovey and Braden Williams, each proceeded to fashion RBI singles and pushed the Rockford lead to 3-0. Had Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills) not ended the inning by throwing out Hovey trying to score, the damage may have been greater. The Rivets would add their final run in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI double from David Cronin off Cameron Busby (Georgia College), but would not score again.

At the plate, the Rafter lineup struggled to find their footing against Rockford starter Tyler Thornton during his six innings on the mound and entered the seventh frame facing a 4-0 deficit. With a new pitcher into the ballgame, the Rafters jumped at the opportunity to kickstart their hitting, loading the bases with one out thanks to a double from Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky), a single by Joey Morgan (Washington), and a walk by pinch hitter Logan Mattix (Georgia College). Finally, the Rafters broke into the scoring column with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) to score Ben Fisher and cut the deficit to 4-1.

 The next batter, Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman), offered possibly the most compelling play of the evening as he drove an Anthony Dahl pitch into the left-center field gap for a two-run triple. Digging for third base, Sims drew a wild throw from the Rivet cutoff man that sailed out of play and allowed him to score, completing the four-run comeback and setting the stage for a dogfight down the stretch.

The subsequent three innings would be characterized by hollow rallies from both sides, as Cameron Busby pitched five masterful innings in relief for the Rafters. With the club facing a brutal stretch of games in the upcoming week, including a pair of double headers, Busby’s ability to eat innings in quality fashion proved invaluable to the Rafters. 

With the game continuing into the eleventh inning, the Rafters mounted a two-out threat thanks to a Logan Mattix, who singled and stole second base. With a runner in scoring position and two out, Rob Calabrese grounded a bouncer through the left side of the infield that allowed Mattix to score and break the 4-4 dead lock. Leading for the first time in the ballgame, the Rafters handed the ball to Garrett Schilling (Xavier) to finish the ballgame and secure the Rafters’ fourth consecutive victory—their seventh in eight games. With a perfect bottom of the eleventh, Schilling secured his seventh save and cemented the sweep of the Rivets.

The Rafters return to action Saturday night at Kapco Park against the Lakeshore Chinooks for a 6:35 p.m. first pitch with coverage on WFHR 1320 AM beginning at 6:20 p.m.

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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.