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Rafters Host Bombers In South Division Final

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Playoffs continue Tuesday with Rafters one game from Championship Series

Rafters Roundup w/ Sam Jellinek

Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Following their ousting of Lakeshore in Monday night’s first-round matchup, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (50-23, 1-0) return to the field to resume their postseason run in the South Division Championship Game against the Battle Creek Bombers (40-33, 1-0). Should the Rafters defeat the Bombers at Witter Field on Tuesday night, the club would advance to the Summer Collegiate World Series for a best two-of-three match up with the winner of the North Division Championship Game—either the Eau Claire Express or the St. Cloud Rox.

The Rafters will turn to right-hander Eric Ligda (Millersville) in hopes of quieting a Bomber lineup that out-scored the Madison Mallards on Monday night with a nine-run, 12-hit performance. Ligda, a native of Pennsylvania, is in line to start for the eighth time this season, appearing for the eleventh time. In regular season play, Ligda endured a 1-3 record despite posting a 2.27 ERA in 51 1/3 inning of work, striking out 48 batters compared to allowing just 15 walks. While he has not earned a victory since his first start of the season on June 27, Ligda has helped the Rafters win in each of his last three starts, pitching a total of 17 2/3 innings in the three-start stretch and offering an ERA of 2.54 with 16 strikeouts to six walks. Tuesday night looks to be Ligda's first head-to-head meeting with the Battle Creek Bombers, one of just three south division teams he did not face in the regular season. In his most recent outing, Ligda received a no-decision after pitching 5 1/3 innings against the Wisconsin woodchucks and allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk, while piling up six punch outs.

Taking the ball for the Bombers will be right-hander Nigel Ward, a product of Cal Poly. In 12 regular-season appearances including six starts, Ward compiled a 3-3 record and offered a 4.46 ERA in 40 1/3 innings on the hill. Primarily a contact pitcher, Ward struck out only 28 batters, while issuing 20 walks and surrendering 55 base hits to the tune of a .324 opponent batting average. Ward, who is originally from California, faced the Rafters earlier in the campaign on the final day of the season’s first half. In seven innings, Ward allowed just one run on five hits and four walks, while striking out three. Despite pitching well, Ward was saddled with a tough-luck 1-0 loss. In the victory, the Rafters clinched the South Division First-Half Championship and guaranteed their first playoff berth in franchise history. In his most recent outing, Ward pitched 4 2/3 innings of three-run work against the Lakeshore Chinooks, submitting to seven hits and two walks, while striking out five in a 7-4 win.

First pitch between the Rafters and the Bombers is scheduled for 7:05 PM at Witter Field with gates opening to the general public at 6:05 PM.

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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.