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
Hope those out there enjoyed MLB Opening Day this week as well as an enjoyable Easter weekend. The first Rafters game of 2018 is just 57 days away and the Rafters-to-be across the landscape of college baseball are locking in as the conference matchups start to pile up. Find out how the guys fared this week in our team report:
Charlie Ruegger and Chandler Brierly both had starts once again this week for Stevens Tech (12-10, 5-2 E8). Brierly pitched the first 2.2 innings in Wednesday’s game vs. Elmira striking out one. It was a strange outing as the sophomore didn’t allow any hits but allowed two runs to score via a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch. Brierly and the Ducks finished strong, winning that contest 9-4. Charlie Ruegger threw his first complete game shutout of his collegiate career in Friday’s 3-0 win over SUNY-Canton. Ruegger allowed just one hit (an infield hit in the 3rd) and struck out 15 in a memorable start. That 15 strikeout performance pushes Ruegger’s season total to 48.
Jonathan Hernandez threw 4.1 scoreless innings this week for Chapman University (20-8, 5-7 SCIAC), all in one game. Hernandez pitched the final 4.1 innings in a 5-2 game one win of Saturday’s doubleheader at Cal Lutheran. Hernandez struck out two on Saturday, giving him 23 Ks in 24 innings. This is the first season Hernandez has reached 20 or more strikeouts after finishing at 19 strikeouts his previous two years with Chapman.
After going 4-1 last week including 3-0 in conference play, Stephen F. Austin (9-18, 3-6 Southland) started well with a non-conference win over Texas Southern 5-4 but then was swept by conference rival Incarnate Word in three games. Josh Campbell had a quiet week batting .250 with a base hit and forcing a walk. Trayson Kubo was busy this week starting Tuesday’s game against Texas Southern. Kubo struck out three in 3.2 innings allowing just an unearned run on three hits. Kubo also pitched the seventh inning in Friday’s loss to Incarnate Word. The junior allowed a run on two hits and struck out a batter in the appearance.
UCF (20-9, 3-3 American) went 2-1 this week in a three-game set at Memphis. Tyler Osik was a constant thorn in the Tigers’ side. The junior hit .472 with five hits, two runs scored, two RBIs, two walks and a hit by pitch in the series. Osik is currently second on the team in batting average (.345), second in RBIs (28), second in slugging percentage (.552) and tied for second in total bases (48). Brody Wofford did not make an appearance this week.
SIU Edwardsville (7-18, 3-9 OVC) split a four game home stand this week. The Cougars lost a close one to Saint Louis University 5-4 on Wednesday and dropped Thursday’s series opener against Belmont 15-1 before taking the final two games on Friday and Saturday to the win the series. Bret Fehr hit .286 in the series against Belmont. Mason McReaken did not log any innings this week.
UNLV (22-7, 7-5 Mountain West) also went 2-2 in four games but all on the road. The Rebels shutout Utah 3-0 on Tuesday but then dropped the first two out of three games at University of Nevada-Reno before winning Saturday’s game 7-3 to avoid the sweep. Jack-Thomas Wold did his job as the designated hitter this week, hitting .308 with five hits, three runs batted in and a run scored. Seth Mullis as always was solid on defense contributing to 11 putouts in his two games played behind the plate this week. Wold also gets it done on defense when he sees time at first base. The freshman has come through on all 70 fielding chances and has contributed to 10 double plays this year.
Texas A&M (21-8, 3-6 SEC) split a four-game road trip winning Tuesday 5-3 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and then dropping two out of three to the Georgia Bulldogs in conference play. Will Frizzell has cooled off as we enter April. The freshman has been held hitless in four straight games, his longest such drought of the season. Frizzell’s bat has been a big contributor to the Aggies offense. Texas A&M is 14-3 when Frizzell gets at least one hit and 5-5 when he does not.
Lamar University (6-22, 2-10 Southland) had a 1-3 week, losing a home game to Northwestern State 7-2 and then dropping the first two out of three to Houston Baptist in a Southland conference series. The Cardinals took Saturday’s game 6-4 to stop the losing skid. Payton Robertson started at shortstop in Tuesday’s home loss to Northwestern State. Robertson went 3-for-3 in the field. The sophomore is 65-for-70 in total chances this season and has not committed an error since March 3rd making good on all 29 chances since then.
Luke Phillips was productive this week for the West Alabama Tigers. The sophomore hit .271, smacked four hits including a double, scored three runs, collected three RBIs and worked four walks. University of West Alabama (12-19, 6-11 GSC) split their four games this week starting with a win at William Carey 11-9 but then lost a three-game home series to North Alabama.
While Indiana State (15-8) went 1-3 on the week including losing a three-game set to Missouri State, Jarrod Watkins continued to dazzle at the plate. While he did not put up another flashy batting average this week, Watkins collected three hits, an RBI and worked four walks; three of them came in game one of Friday’s doubleheader against Missouri State.
Vanderbilt (17-11, 5-4 SEC) did not enjoy a successful week dropping all four contests on the road. Ty Duvall saw some time behind the plate and as a pinch hitter this week during Vanderbilt’s weekend trip to Gainesville facing the conference rival Florida Gators. Duvall was a pinch hitter in Friday’s game but came in as a defensive substitution Saturday and Sunday. The second-year backstop hit his first long ball of the year, a leadoff solo home run in the ninth on Saturday, but it was not enough as the Commodores were blown out 10-2. In eight at bats, Duvall is hitting .250 with three runs scored, one RBI, one home run and four walks. Duvall is also playing perfect defense thus far going 31-for-31 in total chances.
Steven Rivas saw two pinch hitter appearances this week for Long Beach State (11-17) but struck out in both at bats. The Dirtbags went 1-3 on the week but in their sole win of the week they won big, blowing out Fresno State 24-10. Yes, you read that right. 24-10.
Speaking of impressive blowouts, Alex Jackson and Heartland Community College (20-5) enjoyed a 6-0 week including two blowout victories in a doubleheader over Danville Area Community College 23-2 and 14-4. The more impressive aspect is that both games of the doubleheader were only five innings long.
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 Wisconsin Rapids 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, 190 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.