Rafters Team Report Week 10: May 9th – May 15th
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. – Spring seasons are turning toward the heart of championship runs for teams and players all across the country. Many soon-to-be Rafters have already made their mark on the 2017 spring season.
Pushing toward the postseason, Belmont Abbey put it all on the line this past week against Miles College. The double-header day started with a 15-8 win in game one, with a gutsy performance in the nightcap and a 5-4 victory. Cameron Busby did not start either one of the games, but proved to be vital to the Crusaders second game win. Out of the bullpen, Busby pitched two innings of scoreless baseball while allowing just two hits. The righty earned the victory on the hill in the two spotless frames. Busby now owns an 8-4 record in 104 innings this year with 63 strikeouts. The right-hander has the most innings pitched on the team by nearly 30 innings on the Belmont staff, garnering two saves on the year. Belmont Abbey now awaits a potential postseason appearance in the Southeast Regional.
Texas A&M Corpus Christi took two of three games from the University of Incarnate Word, snatching the first two games before dropping the series finale. Nick Anderson helped his team to a game one win by posted a single and a run batted in during the 5-4 victory. In the second game, a 10-7 win, Anderson smashed a solo home run to help lead the offense. The Rafter-to-be ended the series with a double in the series finale. The sophomore has been reliable all year for the Islanders, scoring 29 runs and hitting over .250. Teammate Nkosi Djehuti-Mes, who is set to join the Rafters this summer, has hit two home runs on the season. Texas A&M Corpus Christi closes out the regular season with a three-game home stand against Southland foe Abilene Christian.
Purdue held strong with nationally ranked Michigan in all three games this past week, but ended up dropping all three in the series. Gareth Stroh started game two in a 9-4 loss, but tossed a gutsy eight innings, allowing four earned runs. The lefty struck out two. The Boilermakers are now 26-24 (10-11 Big Ten). The soon-to-be Rafter Stroh owns an ERA of 4.15 and a record of 4-4. Purdue plays in-state rival Fort Wayne at home before ending the regular season on the road at Minnesota.
The bat of University of Chicago-Illinoi’s Rob Calabrese has been a detriment to pitchers all season long, and this past week was no different. The catcher’s strong season continued against both Wright State and Valparaiso. In game one of the week against Wright State, Calabrese notched a two-RBI single to help lead his team to a victory. In game two, the bat heated up as he blasted a solo home run, upping his total to seven on the year while adding to more hits in the game. The first game against Valparaiso proved to be no different as Calabrese notched two more base hits, including a double and a run batted in. Calabrese put his 16 game hitting streak on the line in game two vs. Valpo, but was unable to record a hit. A Rafters star from a year ago, the Rafter returner has 21 doubles and 47 runs batted in this year while raising his average to a scorching .374 after this week. UIC heads to Wright State to finish up Horizon League play before the conference tournament.
St. Johns River State completed its regular season on April 19th with a 10-6 victory against Florida State Jacksonville. Nick Owens helped lead his squad to a 36-16 mark including a record of 22-4 at home. Last week marked postseason play, starting off against Chipola. St. Johns River State came up short against Chipola, dropping the first game of the postseason 5-2. Pressed into the elimination bracket, the offense broke out and led the way to a 13-11 win against Tallahassee. Owens knocked to hits, scored twice, and drove in a run to keep the playoff hopes alive. The next day, St Johns River State went up against Northwest Florida State. A tight battle went to the opposition, with the season coming to a close for St. Johns Rivers State in a 4-3 heartbreaker. Owens was an instrumental piece in the success of the team this year, hitting .328 on the year, with two home runs and 55 runs scored. Owens was held hitless in just 10 of the teams 55 games on the season, with 18 multi-hit efforts.
Valparaiso kicked off last week with an 11-3 win against Milwaukee. Scott Kapers got in on the offensive outburst, lacing a two-RBI double. Valpo also took game two, with Kapers barreling up another double, driving in a run on two hits. The Crusaders then took on UIC, dropping the first game 2-0. Kapers added a single in the loss. Valparaiso got back to its winning ways in the second game of the UIC series, winning 7-6 to finish 3-1 on the week. Kapers was an instrumental part of the offense, doubling in a run and adding a single to finish 2-for-4. Kapers has driven in 27 runs this year while scoring 23 more. The Crusaders host Milwaukee for a three game series to finish regular season play before the Horizon League Tournament.
Cal State- Dominguez Hills season came to an end after its series against Sonoma State two weeks ago. One of the biggest bright spots throughout the course of the season was Brandon Polizzi. The soon-to-be Rafter impressed the entire season. In his last week of the season, he posted a four-for-six game in the second game of the series against Sonoma State. With a double and a triple, Polizzi scored three times. In the season finale, the outfielder notched three more hits, driving in a run to up his season total to 21. Polizzi finishes the season with a batting average of .381. In 49 games this season, the speedster had at least one hit in all but six games. In 25 of those games, he has at least two hits, with three base knocks or more in 11 contests.
Keep the good time rolling for Dustin Woodcock and the SIU Edwardsville Cougars. The past week SIUE scored at least 11 runs in all three games, winning the first two games against Eastern Illinois before dropping the finale. In game one, Woodcock helped lead the team to an 11-3 win, going 2-for-5 with a double, triple, and three runs batted in. Game two was another outburst for the team, winning 22-8 as Woodcock added a hit and a walk. To wrap up the series the outfielder notched two more hits, one of them his six home run of the year in a 16-13 loss. Woodcock raised his batting average up to .337 after the monster week. The outfielder has been stellar throughout the course of the season, driving in 37 runs. Woodcock’s teammate, pitcher Mason McReaken saw action on the mound against Eastern Illinois. The righty tossed four and two-third innings in the series, striking out a season high eight batters. Appearing out of the bullpen this year, McReaken holds an ERA of 3.86. The pitcher has a 2-4 record with 45 strikeouts in 44 innings. McReaken leads the team with six saves. SIU Edwardsville travels to Jacksonville State for a three game series before the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
An offensive explosion started the week for Canisius College against Manhattan. In a 16-5 win, Ryan Stekl of Canisius roped three doubles on his way to a four hit afternoon. Stekl added two runs batted in, and scored a team-high four times in the game. The bats went cold in game two in a 2-0 loss vs. Manhattan, but Stekl added another double, pushing his total on the day to four. The week ended for Stekl and Canisius on a high note and 3-2 series win in the rubber match. Stekl is hitting .328 this year with a team-best 16 doubles and four long balls. J.P. Stevenson started on the hill in the first game of the series. Lasting five innings, the lefty struck out four while giving up just four hits. Picking up his team-high ninth win on the year, Stevenson has now started in 13 games, tossing one complete game. The junior owns a 3.64 ERA on the season with a team-high 81 and two-third innings pitched. Stevenson holds a strikeout to walk ratio of 58 to 17. Canisius hosts St. Bonaventure and Niagara to complete the 2017 regular season before the MAAC Championship.
Quinn DiPasquale of Stevens Tech started this past week against Ithaca, tossing four innings of two run baseball. Both runs scored on the right-hander were unearned. DiPasquale struck out two and gave up four hits. DiPasquale lowered his ERA on the season to 3.60 after his latest performance. On the year, the hard throwing pitcher is 3-4 with 11 starts and three appearances out of the bullpen. He has 57 strikeouts and just 23 free passes this year in 60 innings.
St. Johns has been one of the top teams in the country this year with a 37-8 record. The strong year continued with a three game sweep of Xavier. Aaron Herr, who is in his first season with the Red Storm, did not see an appearance this past week, but has gotten a workload out of the bullpen. The junior is 2-0 on the season with 12 strikeouts on the year. The 18th ranked Red Storm take on LIU Brooklyn on the road before hosting Villanova to end the 2017 regular season. The Big East Tournament starts on May 25th.
Andrew Bechtold of Chipola College (45-8) is on pace to hit over .420 on the season after the start of the postseason for Chipola College. Bechtold has shown no signs of slowing down this season, leading his team to five wins in the postseason. The postseason started off with a 5-2 win against St. Johns River State. Bechtold blasted a three-run shot to be the difference maker in the game. In the second game of the week, it was smooth sailing for Chipola, winning handily against Miami Dade College 10-0. Bechtold drove in two more runs with a base knock while drawing a pair of walks. Chipola then won its final three games of the season, all by double-digits. Bechtold had one hit in all five postseason games. The last game on May 10th for Chipola was a 12-0 win against Palm Beach State College. The LSU commit is has 11 long balls on the year. With 60 runs batted in and 74 runs scored, Bechtold helped lead his team to the Region 8 Championship. It is the 5th Region title for Chipola. The Indians are slated to play in the World Series in Grand Junction, CO staring on May 27th
Southpaw Jack Eagan is back to his dominant ways after a commanding start for Madison against Carl Sandburg College. In seven and two-third innings, the lefty struck out 12 and gave up one earned run in the 4-1 win. The starter has put together a strong campaign in his freshman season. In 55 and two-third innings this year, the freshman has an ERA of 1.29 with 79 strikeouts and just 24 walks after his last start. Madison College took both games of the series against Carl Sandburg. One game left stands on the Madison schedule, with a home game against Kankakee Community College before the NJCAA Division II World Series.
Matt Schmidt of Cypress College capped off the 2017 regular season with one of his best performances of the year. The freshman blasted his fifth homer of the year on his way to a 2-for-3 day, scoring two runs. He is now batting .267 on the year. Christian Jones of Campbell University has notched four home runs and 23 runs batted in. Seattle’s Sean Sutton has hit two long balls on the year in addition to 23 runs batted in. Keaton Graf of New Mexico State made 11 appearances on the mound out of the bullpen this season. The righty has not allowed a run in seven of his 11 appearances thus far on the year.
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.