Win moves Rafters to brink of division title
Kalamazoo, Mich. – Entering the evening with a two-game lead in the South Division standings, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (23-10) utilized a late rally to top the Kalamazoo Growlers (18-15) and widen their division lead to three games. After falling behind in the sixth inning, the Rafters rallied to push the game into extras before pulling ahead to win 6-3 in the tenth frame.
Taking the ball for the Rafters was left-hander Jake Repavich (Grand Canyon), who made his third start of the season and began the game by holding the Growlers hitless for the first 4 1/3 innings of the evening. Despite a three-run sixth inning that was fueled by a pair of errors, Repavich turned in a quality start, as he completed six innings and allowed just three unearned runs. The southpaw scattered five hits and two walks without recording a strikeout in his no-decision.
The Rafters opened the scoring in the top of the second inning after Ben Fisher (Eastern Kentucky) catalyzed a rally with a one-out double to the left field wall. A groundout to the right side of the infield would allow Fisher to advance to third, setting the table for the Rafters to strike first. On a pop fly into no-man’s land behind third base, Connor Kopach and Brandon Gomez converged but were unable to corral the ball, resulting in an RBI single for Doak Dozier (Virginia) and a 1-0 Rafter lead.
After a multitude of quiet innings, the Growlers finally struck in the bottom of the sixth inning against Repavich, following a two-base error that put a runner on second base with no outs. An additional error and a pair of run-scoring singles combined to plate three runs for the Growlers in the inning and offer them a 3-1 lead through six innings.
In the seventh inning, the Rafters used back-to-back walks and a bunt single from Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) to load the bases with no outs. A double play ball off the bat of Jacson McGowan (Purdue) allowed a run to score, cutting the Rafters’ deficit to 3-2. Finally in the ninth inning, the Rafters utilized a leadoff single from Brandon Polizzi (Cal State Dominguez Hills), a stolen base, and a throwing error to put the tying run on third base. Pitching to Sims, Austin Rodesky sent his 2-2 pitch to the backstop and allowed Polizzi to come home and tie the game.
In the tenth inning, the Rafters pieced together a three-run rally to take the lead courtesy of a two-run double from Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) and a Demetrius Sims run-scoring single. Garrett Schilling (Xavier) then came on in the last of the tenth to close the door and proceeded to secure his league-best tenth save with a perfect inning.
Coupling the win with Madison’s loss, the Rafters now enjoy a three-game lead in the South Division with three only games to play. In order for the Rafters to officially clinch the South Division first-half title, they need to either win one of their final three games or watch Madison lose one of their final three games. In order to avoid a tie in the event that the Rafters were to lose their final three games and the Mallards were to win their final three games, a Battle Creek loss on Sunday would also clinch the division for Wisconsin Rapids.
First pitch at Homer Stryker Field is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. local time (2:05 p.m. CT) with coverage beginning 15 minutes prior to first pitch on WFHR 1320 AM.
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.