Rafters Team Report: March 7-13
The Rafters Team Report is a weekly update of your 2017 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters players in their spring seasons. Stay tuned each week for news and stats on players.
By: Mick Tidrow
Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. – Non-conference play is in full swing around the country in college baseball with Rafters players making early marks in the 2017 spring season. Nearing the quarter way point in the season, Rafters look to develop their seasons and make a push into their conference seasons.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi has played in 14 games in 2017. The Islanders made a push against UT Arlington in a three game set, but dropped all three. Just two runs apiece in each game decided the final two games. In the second game, Nick Anderson added two hits in four at-bats while scoring two runs. Anderson is now hitting a team-high .288 on the year. The speedy outfielder also leads the Islanders with nine runs batted in. Nkosi Djehuti-Mes smacked a home run in just his fifth game with the Islanders, coming against Big Ten foe Illinois on February 24th. In the past week, Djehuti-Mes has three hits in his last ten at-bats. The strong outfielder boosted his average to .262 on the season.
All-Star relief pitcher Cameron Busby from Belmont Abbey received his latest start on March 10th. The junior tossed seven and two-thirds of baseball in an effort to help Belmont Abbey to victory. The best start of the season for the starter came against Emmanuel in mid-February. The starter gave up two earned runs while striking out five batters and issuing two free passes in seven innings in the game. On the season, Busby has a team-high six starts on his way to a 2-2 record in 41 2/3rd innings. The right-hander also holds the teams best ERA at 4.97 and 23 punch-out’s. Busby has been used out of the bullpen in three games, earning a save in his second appearance this season against Newberry.
To start of the season, Jake Repavich of Grand Canyon tossed one of the best games of his collegiate career against one of the nations best teams in the Oklahoma State Cowboys, allowing four hits in six dominant shutout innings en route to a 4-0 Grand Canyon victory. In his most recent start; Repavich gave up three earned runs in seven and one-third innings at home vs. San Francisco. His latest start lowered his ERA to 3.96 on the season with a 2-2 record. In 2017, the righty has 20 strikeouts compared to just six walks.
Out of the Big East, Xavier is off to a 7-9 start with a pair of Rafters on its roster. The Musketeers have played in five series’ up to this point in the season, most recently against Southern Mississippi. Right-handed pitcher Trey Schramm notched his first appearance on the season against Charlotte. In three shutout innings, the reliever struck out two while giving up one hit and a walk on March 4th in a 7-1 Xavier loss. Since then, he has appeared in two games, earning the win at Georgia in two innings pitched during that stretch. In the Big East preseason poll, Xavier tied with St. John’s as the coaches’ top picks to win the conference. Freshman pitcher David Williams is also slated to be on the Rafters roster in 2017, and made his season debut on March 11th at Southern Mississippi. The freshman tossed a scoreless inning while recording a strikeout.
From the Big Ten Conference, the soon to be Rafter Gareth Stroh has started four games on the mound for the Purdue Boilermakers. Two starts ago, the left-hander tossed six innings of five run baseball. During the 13-5 Purdue win, it was the first and third innings that hampered Stroh. The starter allowed five runs in the first three innings, but shut down the Southeast Missouri lineup in the last three frames. Stroh owns a 1-2 record in four appearances with In 18 total innings. He has 15 strikeouts on the year. Purdue’s next series comes against Santa Clara in a four game set before taking on Ball State in midweek action.
The competition has been stiff for the University of Illinois-Chicago to start off the 2017 season, including series’ on the road against national powerhouse Vanderbilt and SEC foe Missouri. However, it did not phase the Flames. UIC took two of three from seventh ranked Vanderbilt in late February, winning both in extra innings. Starting catcher Rob Calabrese totaled two hits; including his first home run of the season against Vandy in the series finale win. However, a tough three game set against Missouri saw a sweep of Illinois-Chicago to kick of the month of March. Calabrese finished the three game set against the Tigers with two hits in 11 at-bats. The catcher belted a double in the first game against Missouri. UIC is set to take on Youngstown State in a three game series this coming week.
Already deep into the 2017 season, St. Johns River State boasts a record of 20-11 and 5-2 in NJCAA play. The junior college school is 12-3 at home, in large part to the contributions of Rafter signee Nick Owens. The shortstop has hit his way to a .377 average in 31 games started. With two home runs and 38 runs scored, the sophomore continues to impress this season. During the four game series against Seminole State, Owens compiled six hits in just 10 at-bats in four games. In total, the speedster scored 10 runs in the four game set, adding three walks to his name. In a 12-1 win in game two, Owens blasted a three-run homerun for his second long ball of the season. Owens has been held hitless in just seven of the teams 31 games on the season, with 11 multi-hit efforts. In the final game against Lake-Sumter State, Owens finished 3-5. St. Johns River State finishes a three game series vs. Santa Fe.
From out west, Seattle University started the 2017 season against SIUE in mid February and walked away with a 4-1 win. The Redhawks started off March in a four game series with Sacred Heart, with a fifth game cancelled due to bad weather. In 16 games this year Sean Sutton has 11 hits and four runs batted in. The infielder has a double and three runs batted in. In the series finale against Sacred Heart, Sutton finished 1-4 with an RBI while playing first base. The utility man hit .337 a year ago, good enough for second best on the Seattle roster. Seattle is slated to take on UC Irvine this coming week in a three game set.
From the Midwest, Valparaiso baseball is off to a 4-5 start. The Indiana based school finished up a three game set against Jacksonville, taking the first two games and dropping the finale. Starting catcher Scott Kapers opened the series with a 1-4 performance and a run batted in with two outs. Kapers followed up game one with a similar 1-4 and RBI performance in game two. He has one of the team’s eight homeruns on the season. Kapers is tied for the third-most RBI on the team with six. The catcher has been a solid anchor for the pitching staff in nine spring games this year as the team holds an ERA of 3.94 and 76 strikeouts compared to 48 walks.
Cal State- Dominguez Hills has turned to returning Rafter Brandon Polizzi to lead the way in the batters box and in the field. The outfielder has responded with the team’s best batting average of .400 in 21 starts. In 90 at-bats, the junior has 36 hits with a team high eight doubles. The leadoff man has scored 16 runs and drove in 10. In the four game series against Cal State LA, Polizzi compiled six hits in 17 at-bats, including two runs batted in during the second game of the series. In the 21 games this year, the speedy outfielder has at least one hit in all but three games. In 10 of those games, he has at least two hits, with three base knocks or more in six contests. The Rafter signee looks to continue his torrid pace when the Toros take on Point Loma and Stanislaus State this week.
SIU Edwardsville has started off 2017 with a 10-6 record with the help of junior outfielder and current Rafter Dustin Woodcock. The Cougars lost their first two games on the season against Seattle University, but since the team is 10-4 in its last 12 games. Woodcock helped lead the way from the leadoff spot, going 1-4 with an RBI in each game of a four game series sweep vs. Northern Illinois to get the month of March underway. After starting off the season zero of six in his first two games, Woodcock broke out with a 13 game hitting streak. His .295 batting average is second best on the roster. The junior owns an on-base percentage of .397 this year. In the last series, Woodcock finished five of ten with five runs batted in against Murray State. SIU Edwardsville welcomes Evansville for a one game tilt and then hits the road for three at Tennessee Tech.
The season and home opener for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters is May 30th at 7:05 against the Kenosha Kingfish. Solarus Founders Club, bleacher 9-Game ticket packages, and group outing packages are on sale now. Call 715-424-5400 or stop by the Rafters Front Office Monday-Friday from 9-5 to purchase a ticket package or book a group outing.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 160 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). 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 or on Google Play and set the Rafters as your favorite team.