Rafters Team Report Week Five: March 20th – March 26th
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.
By: Ray Jensen
While it may not feel like it, Spring has arrived. Soon the temperatures will rise nationwide (hopefully) and will start feeling like baseball weather across the country. Things are also heating up in the realm of college baseball. Teams are either in the thick of or kicking off conference play as playoff hopes spring eternal. But enough seasonal puns, here is what the Rafters-to-be have been up to in our team report:
Charlie Ruegger and Chandler Brierly both started games this week for Stevens Tech (8-9). Brierly started Saturday at home hosting Arcadia University. Brierly pitched three innings allowing one earned run, scattering two hits and struck out two as the Ducks won 6-5. Ruegger started game one of Sunday’s double header at Ithaca College. The junior starter struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings but Ithaca ending up taking game one 4-3. Ruegger has the second most strikeouts on the pitching staff with 33 while Brierly has done well in keeping opposing batters guessing with a .146 batting average against.
Jonathan Hernandez helped Chapman University go 3-0 on the week, improving to 17-7 overall. Hernandez pitched three innings of relief in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Middlebury allowing one run on two hits while fanning two. The San Mateo, California native is 2-1 with a save and 21 strikeouts in eight appearances including one start this season.
After losing their first three conference games last week, Stephen F. Austin (8-15) flipped the script by sweeping Abilene Christian University in three games over the weekend as well as taking down Grambling State 14-3 on Wednesday. Josh Campbell batted .250 with two RBIs, a run scored and two walks this week. Trayson Kubo did not make an appearance.
The University of Central Florida Knights (18-8) began conference play in the AAC hosting East Carolina University this week to mixed results. After losing two straight to Florida State on the road, the Knights hosted ECU dropping two of three contests to the Pirates. That said, the performances from Tyler Osik and Brody Wofford were impressive. In the series against the Seminoles, Osik hit .333 with three RBIs, one run scored, a double and a home run. Wofford was a lockdown defender in right field this week with five putouts and continues to be a reliable glove for the Knights. The junior has only one error this year which occurred back on Feb. 18th vs. Samford, UCF’s third game of the season.
SIU Edwardsville (5-16) endured another tough week going 0-4. There were some bright spots as Bret Fehr forced three walks, his best stretch since the beginning of the season when he worked out five walks in the first nine games. Mason McReaken pitched the final 1 1/3 innings in Sunday’s loss to Southeast Missouri. McReaken struck out three in the appearance and is third on the team in strikeouts with 21.
UNLV (20-5) had an up and down week going 2-2. The Rebels started well with a road win over Arizona State and taking game one of a three game home series against San Diego State 4-3. However, the Aztecs’ offense proved to be a buzz saw scoring 39 runs in the final two games. Seth Mullis and Jack-Thomas Wold played well this week regardless of the results. Mullis hit .417 across the four games while Wold put in a stellar performance Saturday. Wold was 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, scored three times, drove in a run and forced a walk.
To say Will Frizzell is in midseason form would be an understatement. The freshman batted .287, collected five hits, scored four times, batted in four and blasted two home runs this week. Frizzell now has three homers in his last five games. Frizzell is standing out on a Texas A&M (19-6) squad with a plethora of good hitters (team batting average is .299). The first baseman has a slash line of .310/.370/.500 in 24 games and his four home runs are second most on the team. The Aggies acknowledged an anniversary Wednesday as Olsen Field celebrated 40 years since the stadium’s first opening day on March 21, 1978.
Jarrod Watkins and Indiana State (14-5) enjoyed a 3-0 week with wins over Eastern Illinois and Xavier. Watkins was crucial for the Sycamores’ success as he hit .300, scored four runs, snagged four hits and forced a walk. Watkins reached base five times and only failed to touch home plate once. Watkins leads Indiana State in multiple offensive categories such as average (.370), at bats (81), runs scored (19), total hits (30), doubles (9) and total bases (41).
Ty Duvall did not log any innings behind the plate this week but the No. 8 ranked Vanderbilt Commodores (17-7) enjoyed continued success in SEC play with a series win over the LSU Tigers at home.
Steven Rivas did not make an appearance for Long Beach State (10-14) this week. The Dirtbags went 2-2 on the road winning two out of three at Cal State Fullerton. Rivas has done well in a small sample this season. In eight games, the freshman is hitting .267 with four hits, a double, three runs scored, three RBIs, three walks and a stolen base.
Alex Jackson and Heartland Community College (14-5) split a double header at Lincoln Land Community College. The Hawks are 3-3 since returning from the 2018 RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.
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.