Woodcock’s Two-Homer Game Lifts Rafters
Comeback win in Mequon helps Rafter salvage split
Mequon, Wis. – On a night in which Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) starred by smashing two home runs, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (40-21, 16-9) scored the winning run on a dropped infield pop fly. Thanks to a three-run rally in the eighth inning, the Rafters came from behind to beat the Lakeshore Chinooks (28-34, 13-13) by a final score of 5-4 at Kapco Park on Wednesday night.
The Rafters wasted little time in snapping Lakeshore starter Marshall Kasowski’s 27-inning scoreless streak, as Woodcock delivered the first of his two home runs in the first inning, a solo shot to right field. The 1-0 lead lasted only briefly, as an RBI single from Zac Taylor brought the score even in the bottom of the fourth. One inning later, Kevin Riley led off with a home run to turn the game in favor of the Chinooks and saddle the Rafters with a 2-1 deficit after four innings.
Two innings later, the bottom of the sixth frame proved to be the undoing of Rafter starter Eric Ligda (Millersville), who loaded the bases by hitting a batter and walking a pair before being lifted. In relief of Ligda, right-hander Blair Lakso (Buffalo) walked in a run and allowed a second to score on a fielder’s choice, levying Ligda with both runs and widening the margin to 4-1 after six innings. Ligda, who did not factor into the decision, allowed four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and a season-high four walks, while striking out three.
In the seventh frame, the Rafters began the slow process of mounting a comeback when catcher Joey Morgan (Washington) drew a two-out walk and came all the way around to score on a trio of wild pitches. With the score resting at 4-2, Lakso followed with a scoreless seventh and handed the Rafter lineup a chance to inch even closer in the top of the eighth inning.
Richie Palacios (Towson) reached base for the first time in his Rafter career by drawing a leadoff walk, bringing the tying run to the plate. After a fielder’s choice accounted for the first out, Woodcock stepped to the plate and delivered the game-tying home run by walloping a 3-1 pitch from Cole Gnetz over the right field wall. The multi-home run game was Woodcock’s first as a Rafter and just the second such game by a Rafter this season.
With two outs in the inning, the Rafters stacked consecutive singles from Max Widmar (Iowa Central) and Patrick Cromwell (Clemson) to put the go-ahead runs on base. Morgan then hit what looked to be an inning-ending infield pop fly, only to watch Chinook short stop Royce Ando mishandle the ball and drop the pop-up, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
After another scoreless inning from Lakso and a scoreless ninth from Garrett Schilling (Xavier), the Rafters held on to snap Lakeshore’s five-game winning streak. In the victory, Lakso earned the win, moving his record to 5-0 on the season, and Schilling earned his league-leading fifteenth save of the year.
The Rafters will return to action on Thursday night as they travel to Rockford for a 6:35 PM first pitch.
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.