Five-run eighth inning help Rafters snap losing streak against Kenosha
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.- With a playoff berth already in hand, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (25-12) returned home to take on the Kenosha Kingfish (16-21) for the first time this season. On the first day of the season’s second half, the Rafters used a late rally to catapult themselves past the Kingfish and snap their previous 11-game losing streak against their adversaries from Kenosha.
In the midst of an offensive surge, the Kingfish wasted no time in continuing their recent success at the plate by scoring the first run of the ballgame. With the count full, Pat McInerney drove a Jay Peters (UW-Milwaukee) fastball over the left field wall and offered Kenosha an early 1-0 lead. Kenosha would add another run in the top of the third thanks to a run-scoring single from McInerney. One inning later, the Kingfish extended their lead to 3-0 on a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Dylan Rosa. Peters left the game after 5 1/3 innings in which he allowed three runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk, while striking out four and not factoring into the decision.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Rafters found their way into the scoring column after Demetrius Sims (Bethune-Cookman) singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a throwing error, and moved to third on a Patrick Cromwell (Clemson) sacrifice bunt. With two outs and the runner on third, Jake Lumley (Canisius) pushed the run across with a ground ball to second and cut the Rafter deficit to 3-1. After a series of quiet frames, the Kingfish used a pair of runs on a McInerney single against John Jaeger (Sterling College) in the top of the seventh to push their lead to 5-1, their largest of the evening.
Looking to catalyze a rally, the Rafters found their footing by stacking three consecutive singles to load the bases and knock reliever Kyle Michalik from the game. Joe Wainhouse (Washington) proceeded to work a bases-loaded walk and Rob Calabrese (Illinois-Chicago) hit into a fielder’s choice one batter later to cut the score to 5-3. Still with only one out, Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) came off the bench to face reliever Ryan Orr and crushed the right-hander’s 1-1 pitch over the right field wall to pull the Rafters in front and send the game to the ninth with the Rafters leading 6-5.
With closer Garrett Schilling (Xavier) unavailable after a two-inning save on Tuesday night, the Rafters turned to right-hander Nick Belzer (Hawaii) to record the final three outs. Despite allowing a runner to third base, Belzer stiffened to force a groundout from McInerney and secured the win. Jaeger earned the victory in relief, Belzer earned the save, and Orr was saddled with the loss.
The Rafters return to action Thursday night against the Kingfish at Witter Field with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and gates opening to the general public 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, 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.