Recap: 10th Anniversary Season a Home Run in Rapids
Rafters set records, rack up wins in banner 2019 season
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 10thAnniversary Season was filled with plenty of excitement and success as the team won its fifth division title and made its third postseason appearance.
First Half (23-13)
Despite starting the season with a 3-6 record, the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters battled in the first half of the season, finishing with the second-best record in the league and coming in just two games behind the Madison Mallards.
In June, the Rafters added eight alumni to a long list of former players selected in the MLB first-year player draft. 2017 Rafter Bryson Stott became the highest draft pick in team history, going 14thoverall to the Philadelphia Phillies. Trayson Kubo was drafted by the Oakland A’s while still with the 2019 team.
Wisconsin Rapids saw four players chosen for the 2019 Northwoods League All-Star Game in Waterloo, Iowa. Outfielder Richie Schiekofer and catcher Jake Dunham got the nod along with starting pitchers Matt Osterberg and Neil Abbatiello. Those four represented Rapids well and Abbatiello earned the win.
Second Half (23-13)
Wisconsin Rapids continued its success into the second half, staying consistent and collecting another 23 wins. On the road in Kokomo on July 8, field manager Craig Noto reached 200 career wins over five seasons with the Rafters. Two weeks later, the Rafters transformed into the Wisconsin Rapids Gorgeous Grandmas for one day and defeated the Green Bay Booyah.
Six Rafters participated in the 2019 Major League Dreams Showcase in Madison. Pitchers Brayden Bonner, Jimmy Borzone and Zack Hunsicker were selected for the event along with catcher Jake Dunham, infielder Edarian Williams and outfielder Davion Downey.
Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Rafters needed two wins against the Lakeshore Chinooks to secure a playoff spot. In a game-one victory, Anthony Galason became the first Rafter in team history to hit for the cycle. Rapids edged Lakeshore 7-6 in game two to win the Great Lakes West Division second-half title and clinch a playoff berth.
Wisconsin Rapids had four players selected to the postseason all-star team. Schiekofer and Dunham were named all-stars again. Pitchers Gareth Stroh, who broke the Rafters single-season ERA record, and Brayden Bonner also made the team. Pitching coach Will Flynt was given the 2019 Northwoods League Coach of the Year award. Dunham and Stroh were named co-team MVPs.
Despite dropping both games to the Madison Mallards in the sub-divisional series, the Rafters boasted the third-highest number of wins in team history and once again engaged the community in a unique and entertaining way. Despite being the smallest Northwoods League market, the Rafters finished in the top half of the league in attendance and gave $24,609 back to nonprofits in the local community.
The excitement continues at Historic Witter Field in September with the Rushing Rapids Craft Beer Festival, presented by B’s Tap House. For more information on ticket options visit Raftersbaseball.com, call the Rafthouse at 715-424-5400, or visit Historic Witter Field. The Rafthouse is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Thursday at Witter Field, 521 Lincoln Street in Wisconsin Rapids.
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, over 200 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.