The Rafters Team Report is a weekly update of your 2018 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters players in their spring seasons. Stay tuned each week for news and stats on players
March truly is a month of madness. As this weekend brought St. Patrick’s Day celebrations across the nation, many are still mourning their busted March Madness brackets (condolences to those who picked Arizona, Tennessee, Wichita State, Cincinnati, Xavier or UVA to win it all). College baseball games were also played this weekend and as always, the latest news concerning the 2018 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters and their respective college teams is described below. Read on to see if the “luck of the Irish” was with the Rafters-to-be this week:
No. 24 ranked The University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels earned a series win at Air Force in a three-game set. The Rafters’ newest signees, Seth Mullis and Jack-Thomas Wold helped power the Rebels this week. Mullis had his best game of the series in Friday’s 11-6 win. The backstop went 1-for-3 at the plate, walked twice and scored twice. Mullis was reliable on defense as well contributing to 13 of the team’s 27 putouts on Friday. Wold also gave the offense a nice lift this week. The freshman hit .416 with five hits, including two doubles, scored six times, walked three times and drove in three runs.
The Stevens Tech Ducks could not immediately capitalize on last week’s win over Johns Hopkins but finished the week strong. The Ducks dropped four straight before beating Middlebury College Saturday 11-4 and returned home on Sunday to defeat New Jersey City University 5-4. Charlie Ruegger started his third game of the year on Friday opposite Emory University. Ruegger struck out seven in seven innings and allowed three runs. The junior exited after seven having thrown 109 pitches at that point. Ruegger did not factor into the decision as Emory took the lead off of the Ducks’ bullpen scoring five runs in the eighth. Chandler Brierly pitched a total of 8 2/3 innings this week. The 6-foot-7 lefty made relief appearances Tuesday and Thursday but also started Saturday’s game vs. Middlebury. In his start, Brierly struck out nine in seven scoreless innings and allowed just one hit in his first win of the season.
After serving a bullpen role the past two seasons, Jonathan Hernandez made his first start as a Chapman University Panther on Thursday. Hernandez started game two of a doubleheader hosting Dickinson College. The junior put together a stellar outing throwing six innings of one run ball as Chapman took the contest by a final of 12-1. Hernandez fanned six batters on Thursday to push his season total to 19 in 16 2/3 total innings.
Stephen F. Austin had some tough luck this week. After defeating Prairie View A&M on Tuesday 13-6, SFA lost its first three conference games of the year, suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of McNeese State. Josh Campbell put in the work in the win over Prairie View A&M. Campbell went 3-for-4 at the plate with four RBIs and two runs scored. Trayson Kubo finished the game on Tuesday with a scoreless ninth and two strikeouts.
SIU Edwardsville weathered the storm this week falling on the road to Saint Louis University 5-2 and then dropped three straight at home during the weekend in a sweep by Tennessee State. Bret Fehr was limited to a pinch hitter appearance this week in Saturday’s game and struck out swinging. Mason McReaken pitched the final two innings in Sunday’s loss and struck out five in the appearance. McReaken now has 18 punch outs this season in only 11 1/3 innings.
It was another big week for Ty Duvall and No. 8 ranked Vanderbilt as they began their SEC slate. The Commodores started their week with a non-conference loss to Eastern Kentucky but then went on the road and swept No. 19 ranked Mississippi State in three games to open conference play. Ty Duvall saw some action this week including starting the game behind the plate hosting Eastern Kentucky and as a substitution in Saturday’s win over Mississippi State. Duvall went 1-for-2 at the plate this week with a single and a walk. He has also been smooth with the glove this season sporting a spotless fielding percentage in 26 total chances.
No. 12 ranked Texas A&M also began conference play in the SEC this week but did not share the same luck as Vanderbilt. The Aggies dropped their first two games to No. 14 ranked Auburn but came back to win Sunday’s finale 5-1. Will Frizzell could not figure out Auburn’s pitchers but his performance this week is just a small blip on what has been a productive season thus far for the freshman. He is currently batting .313 with 20 hits, five extra-base hits including a home run, 13 runs scored, 10 RBIs and is playing excellent defense with a perfect fielding percentage in 38 total chances.
Jarrod Watkins turned up the intensity as Indiana State swept The Citadel in a three-game series. Watkins hit .422 with five hits (four doubles), four runs scored, three walks and an RBI. Besides a knack for making contact, Watkins has also impressed with his plate discipline. In 2018, he has struck out only five times in 68 at bats. The last time he fell victim to a strikeout was March 2nd.
Steven Rivas once again shined in limited opportunities. Long Beach State went 3-1 at home this week defeating Washington State and taking two out of three from Tulane. Rivas only saw action Friday as a pinch hitter but forced a walk in his lone plate appearance in the eighth and eventually scored in a 13-2 win over Tulane.
Alex Jackson and Heartland Community College used their win last week over Academy Baseball of Canada as a launching pad and are now 11-2 overall. This week the Heartland Hawks swept the competition in the 2018 RussMatt Central Florida Invitational. The Hawks are riding high on a six-game winning streak after taking down Herkimer College, Community College of Rhode Island and Lakeland Community College.
The 2018 Wisconsin Rapids Rafters will begin their season on the road against the Madison Mallards on Tuesday, May 29th. The Home Opener is slated for Friday, June 1st against the Wisconsin Woodchucks. The entire 2018 Rafters schedule is available at www.raftersbaseball.com.
The Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods 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 185 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR). 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.