Rafters Walk It Off for Second Straight Game
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. – There must be magic in these historic walls, as Witter Field Wonders strike again on Father’s Day for the second straight game in a row. After a knockdown, drag out 11 innings against the Rockford Rivets, Colin Tuft walked it off for the Rats in the bottom of the 11th to win 5-4.
Just as how last night’s game started, a pitching duel ensued to begin the game. The Rivets starter, Ross Thompson, shut down the Rafters through the first three innings. Rafters starter, Jake Dahle, threw two scoreless innings to begin the game, but then the Rivets offense came alive in the third. Leadoff hitter, Dylan Robertson, lined an RBI single into right field, as Rockford took a 1-0 lead. Dahle exited the game after the three innings of one-hit on one-run ball, as he struck out two and walked one.
Jacob Igawa picked up where he left off in last night’s walk-off, as he hit an RBI single in the fourth to tie up the game, 1-1. However, the Rivets retook the lead in the top of the fifth against Rafter reliever Cam Nolet. Cam McDonald hit another RBI single to make it a 2-1 game. Rockford scored one more on Nolet in the sixth, to give the Rivets a two-run lead, 3-1. Nolet finished his outing with three innings pitched while giving up two runs on three hits, allowed two walks, and struck out one.
Both teams were held scoreless in the seventh, as Rafters reliever, Connor Kurki, threw another 1-2-3 inning, his third of the season in just as many appearances. Ben Adams had a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, as Rafters first baseman, Jacob Igawa, turned an unassisted double play in the inning. Wisconsin Rapids scored their second run of the game off of the first and third play, in which Ben Ross attempted to steal second, got caught in a run, and then Colin Tuft stole home to make a 3-2 game. Ross Thompson’s impressive outing finished after the eighth, as he threw eight innings of two-run baseball while allowing seven Rafter hits.
Malakai Vetock entered the game to pitch for the Rafters in the ninth. He threw a scoreless top half, as the Rafters had a chance to win in the bottom half. With a 2-2 count and two outs, a pinch hitter, Brendan Bobo, had an RBI single that tied the game up at 3-3. The Rafters would not be able to bring Bobo across, so the game was sent to extras. The Rivets scored one in the top of the 10th, and the Rafters tied it in the bottom half via a Joe Osborn sacrifice fly. Malakai Vetock threw a scoreless frame in the top half of the 11th for the Rafters, as the Rafters had a golden chance to walk it off in the 11th. Ben Ross started on second base for the Rafters, as Chris Conniff was intentionally walked to begin the 11th. Levi Jensen then put down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Ross and Conniff over to second and third. With the game-winning run 90 feet away, Garrett Broussard was given the intentional walk. Colin Tuft came up to the dish and worked the count full. On 3-2, Tuft sent a high chopper out to the Rivets shortstop, who threw it home but was too late as Ross came across to score to give the Rafters another walk-off win, 5-4. Malakai Vetock, after throwing three innings of baseball in which he did not incur an earned run, received the win.
The Rafters (18-2) and Rivets (10-11) will battle again tomorrow night at Witter Field at 6:35 pm. Catch all the action with Carter Gledhill on the Northwoods League Baseball Network or on WFHR 1320 AM/97.5 FM with Brett Loftis.
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 proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 28th season, 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 280 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (NYM), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and 2019/2021 Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and 2021 All-Star, MLB Gold Glove winner and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TEX). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. League games are viewable live at watchnwl.com. 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.