Team tries to break franchise record on ‘Fan Appreciation Night’
Rafters Roundup with Sam Jellinek
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (47-21, 23-9) enter Friday night in the midst of a season-high eight-game winning streak, tying the franchise mark set in June of 2012. The Kalamazoo Growlers (32-27, 12-21) will look to stop the Rafters’ streak as the clubs conclude their season series—a tilt that the Rafters currently lead 5-2. Additionally, Friday night’s ‘Fan Appreciation’ ballgame marks the final regular-season home game for the Rafters in 2016, as the squad will take to the road to conclude their regular-season schedule over the weekend in Battle Creek.
The Rafters will hand the ball to a left-handed starter for the second time in as many nights, a move that might draw intrigue from Rafter fans after southpaw Gareth Stroh (Coffeyville CC) dominated the Growlers for six innings on Thursday night. Receiving the starting call will be Jake Repavich (Grand Canyon), a left-handed ground ball specialist who has pitched in nine games, making eight starts. Upon entrance to the action, Repavich sports a 1-3 record and a 2.63 ERA in 51 1/3 innings on the bump, notching 24 strikeouts and walking only 16. Friday night will mark the third time that Repavich has started against Kalamazoo, having pitched well in both outings. In 11 innings against the Growlers, Repavich has allowed just two earned runs (six total runs) on 10 hits and four walks. I his two prior meetings with the Growlers, the Rafters have gone 1-1, scoring an average of 4.5 runs per game—well below their per-game season average.
Despite his statistical success, the campaign has been a source of frustration for Repavich, who has not won a decision since July 16 against the Wisconsin Woodchucks. While defensive backing and run support have been shaky behind Repavich, the left-hander looks forward to a new advantage: starting at home. Due to an anomaly in the Rafters’ starting rotation, Repavich has made all eight of his starts away from Witter Field—the building in which the Rafters have compiled a 26-8 record this summer.
Kalamazoo plans to start a fellow left-hander in the form of Central Michigan product Grant Wolfram. Wolfram, who competed in the Major League Dreams Showcase earlier this week, is in line for his thirteenth appearance and eighth start of the season, owning a 2-3 record and a 3.48 ERA. In 41 1/3 innings of work this season, Wolfram has struck out 37 batters and issued 26 walks. At times, the strike zone has evaded the southpaw, as evidenced by his four games of three walks or more. The outing will be the second head-to-head meeting between the Rafters and Wolfram, as the Michigan native pitched a scoreless inning against the Rafters on June 18, facing five batters, walking a pair, and earning one strikeout. Wolfram last pitched for the Growlers on August 5 against the Green Bay Bullfrogs, an appearance in which he worked three scoreless frames without allowing a hit.
First pitch at Witter Field is slated for 7:05 PM with gates opening at 6:05 PM.
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.