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
A conference title win highlights the team report this week as the Rafters-to-be across the country kick it up a notch this time of year. The postseason brings a unique type of energy and magic that is hard to top. Take a look at how the guys performed as the postseason is in full swing for some, while others try to maintain or obtain some late-season momentum.
Jonathan Hernandez and the 2018 Chapman University Panthers (34-11, 15-9 SCIAC) wrote themselves into the record books by winning the first SCIAC title in program history. It was not an easy path for the Panthers as they fell to Redlands 13-6 in the opening round. They staved off elimination by winning four in a row including a sweep of Redlands when they met again in the championship series. The Panthers were down 10-1 after six innings in the final game but scored 17 unanswered runs eventually taking the SCIAC title by a final of 20-12. Jonathan Hernandez played a part in the memorable week. In the semi-finals win over La Verne, Hernandez threw 3.2 scoreless relief innings to earn his second save of 2018. Then in game two of the SCIAC Championship Series, the junior chipped in 2.2 innings of relief while striking out three. Chapman now has an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III tournament and begin regionals on May 17th.
Charlie Ruegger and Chandler Brierly both made starts this week for Stevens Institute of Technology (25-14, 15-3 Empire 8). Brierly started Tuesday at Scranton in a game which ended up becoming a slugfest. The sophomore threw 4.1 innings in his start and fanned two as the Ducks outlasted Scranton 16-14. Ruegger started Friday at then No. 27 ranked St. John Fisher College and proved his mettle against the ranked opponent. Ruegger ended 2/3 innings shy of his second complete game of the season. The junior tossed 8.1 innings, allowing two runs and striking out eight in the 8-2 win, Ruegger’s seventh of the season.
Stephen F. Austin (15-31, Southland 7-17) stumbled going 1-2 this week in a three games series hosting the Nicholls Colonels but there were still highlights in Josh Campbell and Trayson Kubo. Campbell batted .389 and collected his third homer of the year on Saturday as well as two doubles which both came in the series finale Sunday. Trayson Kubo pitched a total of three relief innings across two appearances and gave up only two hits and a run while fanning two. It will be a clash between Rafters next week as Payton Robertson and the Lamar University Cardinals visit for a three-game set starting Friday.
Victor Carlino and the Southwestern Jaguars were knocked out of the California Community College Athletic Association Playoffs in the first round on Tuesday, losing to Cuesta College 13-4. Carlino led the Jaguars offense going 3-for-4, collecting an RBI single and scoring a run.
Tommy Szczasny found success at the plate this week with a .403 average, five runs scored, an RBI and a double. Szczasny scored three times and collected three hits against Valparaiso University on Tuesday. The NIU Huskies went 2-3 with wins over Valparaiso and the University of Toledo. Sunday was the home finale for NIU as Szczasny and the Huskies start a seven-game road trip Friday visiting Bowling Green.
Chandler Greenfield, Brecken Lewis and the rest of the Dixie State Trailblazers had a week off after a long California road trip and resume play with their final series of the season on May 8th. Dixie State plays host to California Baptist in a four-game series.
Tyler Osik collected five hits including a double and drove in three runs this week for the UCF Knights. The University of Central Florida (32-15, 11-9 American) went 3-1 defeating Florida Atlantic and taking two out of three from Houston on the road. Brody Wofford did not make an appearance this week. The Knights play six out of their final eight at home hosting Oklahoma and Tulane.
Mason McReaken started at home for SIU Edwardsville (14-31, OVC 5-19) on Sunday in the series finale against Austin Peay. McReaken threw four innings, allowing two runs and striking out seven; bringing his season total to 43. Bret Fehr did not record an at bat this week. The Cougars play their final four road games of the season next week visiting Bradley and Eastern Illinois.
The UNLV Rebels (30-19, 11-13 MW) had a minor setback this week losing a home series to San Jose State. Jack-Thomas Wold collected three hits including his 10th double of the year. The freshman slugger also worked two walks, scored a run, batted in a run and even stole a base during the San Jose State series. Seth Mullis had a strong showing during Friday’s 11-2 win with a two-hit, two-RBI day. The Rebels host the University of Nevada – Reno next weekend before ending the regular season at Fresno State.
Will Frizzell and the Texas A&M Aggies (34-14, 12-12 SEC) played their final home games of the regular season. The Aggies hosted Prairie View A&M and then faced the No. 1 Ranked Florida Gators in a three-game series. Frizzell had a big game against Prairie View A&M batting in four runs on just two hits while scoring one run in the 18-1 victory. The Aggies dropped two of three to the Gators. Texas A&M hits the road next visiting No. 4 ranked Arkansas.
Payton Robertson was a defensive substitution at shortstop in his lone appearance this week as the Cardinals faced Rice on the road. Lamar University (15-34, 9-15 Southland) failed to get in the win column during the week and will look to get back on track when they visit Stephen F. Austin on Friday.
Jarrod Watkins collected four hits including a triple, walked three times and scored twice for Indiana State (24-20, The Valley 6-9) this week. Watkins aided the Sycamores in going 3-1 including a conference series win over Southern Illinois. Indiana State returns home to Bob Warn Field this Friday to host Evansville.
Ty Duvall started at catcher in three out of the four games played by Vanderbilt (25-22, 11-13 SEC) this week. Duvall scored once, collected two hits and mashed his third homer while driving in two runs. Vanderbilt fell to Louisville and Auburn this week and will look to right the ship in SEC play visiting Tennessee on Friday.
Steven Rivas appeared in all three of Long Beach State’s games this week as the Dirtbags won all three of their contests over UC Riverside. Rivas batted .333 with a double and two runs scored as the freshman continues to show his potential. Long Beach State (21-26, 7-8 Big West) takes on UCLA on the road Tuesday before hosting UC Santa Barbara for a weekend series.
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, more than 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.wisconsinrapidsrafters.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.