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Published On: August 25th, 2023

The 2023 Rafters season is over, and if you had to describe this Rafters season in one phrase, “roller coaster” would be the most fitting.

Wis Rapids, WI – The Rafters finished with a 40-31 record, making it the fifth consecutive season the franchise will finish with a winning record (a streak that began in 2019 when the team went 46-26) and the seventh time in Rafter’s history the team will finish with a record above .500. However, the Rafters failed to qualify for the 2023 Northwoods League Playoffs despite having the second-best overall record in the Great Lakes West. 

Opening day 2023

With all that being said, let’s take a look back at the 14th season of Wisconsin Rapids Rafters baseball. 

Contrary to 2022, the Rats got off to a slow start, through the team’s first seven games Wisconsin Rapids posted a record of 2-5 and found themselves in fifth place in the Great Lakes West. But that’s when things would change for the Rafters. The Rats would go on a six-game winning streak, where they outscored their opponents by a tally of 32-12. The sixth win on that streak will be a game Rafter fans will remember for a long time. June 10th saw the Rafters hosting the Wausau Woodchucks. Following a two-hour rain delay before the game even began, Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau were in a phenomenal pitcher’s duel that saw few runs cross home plate. 

Levi Jensen Interview after walk-off

The Rafters went down 2-1 late and were trailing by that score going into the bottom of the ninth inning. After the first two batters, Jack Basseer (TCU) and Jack Gurevitch (San Diego)  led off the inning with a pair of singles, the Rafters would load the bases. With Ty Johnson (Baylor)  at the plate, the Woodchuck pitcher threw a wild pitch, allowing Basseer to score to tie the game. A few batters later with the bases loaded once again with one out and a full count, Levi Jensen (North Alabama) would send a weakly hit ground ball to third, with the runner coming home, the Woodchuck third baseman threw the ball away, allowing the winning run to score.

That was the first taste of Witter Field magic in 2023. 

Jack Gurevitch

That next taste came exactly one week later on a gorgeous Saturday evening at Witter Field. In front of what was the largest crowds at the time at the ballpark, the Rafters played host to the Lakeshore Chinooks in what fans will likely remember as the Jack Gurevitch game. In the first inning, Gurevitch would hit a two-run homer to left field that would land on the playground beyond the wall. In his third at-bat of the game in the sixth inning, Gurevitch launched a no-doubter to right field, expanding the Rafter lead and giving him his first multi-home run game of the season. But he was not done yet. In his fourth and final at-bat of the game with a runner on first base, Gurevitch sent a ball to center field that kept on carrying until it was over the fence. A three-homer night for Gurevitch, which powered the Rafters to a crucial victory after being swept at home by the defending champion Kalamazoo Growlers in the two days leading up to it.

The Rafters were in a battle for first place in the Great Lakes West as the first half came to a close. The three-team race between Wisconsin Rapids, Wausau, and Green Bay would eventually come down to the final day of the first half to determine who would get that first postseason spot in the division. For the Rafters their scenario was simple, win and they’re in. 

Fans on 7/3/23

1,174 fans showed up to Witter Field in hopes that they could see their Rafters clinch a spot in the postseason, but the Rafters’ first-half postseason hopes were dashed. The Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, a team already eliminated from first-half contention came into Witter Field and had an all-around team performance. Fond du Lac outhit the Rafters 7-4 and had Rafter hitters off-balanced all night long, as Wisconsin Rapids struck out nine times as a team.

The Rafters fell by a score of 6-2 and because the Rockers won their game that night, Green Bay won the first-half championship in the Great Lakes West, meaning the Rafters would need to go to work in the back 36 to be the division’s second playoff team. 

But it wasn’t easy out the gates in the second half for the Rafters as the team struggled out of the gates, dropping four of their first five games, finding themselves in last place in the Great Lakes West. The team did piece together a brief five-game winning streak which was ended by a streak of the Rats dropping six of their next seven. Entering play on July 21st, the Rafters needed to get rolling if they wanted to enter the postseason hunt. Which they did. 

2023 Great Lakes All-Star Game

Wisconsin Rapids proceeded to win nine of their next 10 games played and found themselves in first place in the Great Lakes West. During that streak, the Rafters had two special individual moments occur for the franchise. The Rafters sent five players to the 2023 Northwoods League All-Star Game. Wisconsin Rapids sent Brendan Bobo (Cal State Fullerton), Calen Graham (Texas State), Ty Johnson (Baylor), Jacob Rosenkranz (Missouri Baptist), and Julian Tristan (Santa Clara)  to Traverse City for the festivities.

NWL President Ryan Voz with MVP Brendan Bobo

Bobo and Johnson combined to go four-for-five with two walks and four RBIs. Bobo, went four-for-four with a home run and three RBIs, winning the game’s Star of Stars Award (All-Star Game MVP). But that wasn’t the only individual achievement for Brendan Bobo this season.

Bobo entered the Rafters game against the Dock Spiders on August 3rd with 11 home runs on the season and is tied for the Northwoods League career home run record at 28. In the bottom of the first, Bobo smashed a ball to center field for a game-tying solo home run, for the 29th of his Northwoods League Career. Making Bobo the all-time Northwoods League home run leader. 

Later that game, the Rafters would come from behind in the ninth inning to walk off the Dock Spiders on an RBI single by Anthony Galason (Coastal Carolina) down the left field line. Another night of Witter Field magic gave everyone around the Rafters the belief that postseason baseball would be coming to Witter Field once again.

But that’s when things, unfortunately, went downhill for Wisconsin Rapids. The first-place Rafters hosted Wausau in a doubleheader on August 5th and despite what the scoreboard said, the Rafters were outplayed by the Woodchucks in both games of the double dip and found themselves being on the wrong end of a Saturday sweep. Later that week, the Rafters proceeded to go to Madison for a crucial two-game series where they were two games back of the Mallards. After dominating Madison 10-5 in game one of the series, the Rafters could’ve tied Madison for the division lead with a win in the rubber match, and unfortunately, Murphy’s law came into play. 

Everything that could go wrong, went wrong. Madison outhit Wisconsin Rapids 16-5 and the Rafters committed two errors in the ballgame. The Mallards beat the Rafters 11-3 in a game that would ultimately decide the second-half champion. Madison proceeded to win their next game, clinching their spot in the postseason. 

With the Rafters knowing their destiny entering the final day of the season the Rafters used that never give up mentality that they adopted throughout the season one final time. Down early against the Green Bay Rockers, the Rafters put up four unanswered runs against the Rockers and took a 4-1 lead. After a Green Bay run in the ninth, the Rafters were able to close the door and made it the fifth time in franchise history that the Rafters won at least 40 games in a season.

Sure, the disappointment will be there for some fans, missing the postseason despite finishing half a game back for the division’s best overall record can cause that, but there’s a bigger picture to think about as everyone heads into the offseason. This has been one of the best two-year stints in Rafter’s baseball history. Besides the team’s run in 2016-2017 where the franchise won its first Northwoods League Championship, the 2022-23 seasons are next. 

The Rafters have won 97 games over their last two seasons, and if you include the playoffs in 2022, that number jumps to 99. 99 wins over their last 147 games is hard to do, especially in a league filled with parity like the Northwoods League is, with the constant roster changes, intense travel, and grueling schedule that sees teams playing 72 games in 78 days.  

For the past two years, a team from Wisconsin Rapids, a town with a population of just under 19,000, has done something that teams from some of the biggest cities in states across the Midwest haven’t. 

There’s an adage that goes: hope springs eternal, and that’s what fans of the Rafters need to remember as they look back on this season, reminisce on the fond memories that this season has brought and just before you know it, spring will be here again. This also means Rafters baseball will be back again.


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. Now in its’ 30th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 24 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 325 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 (TEX), 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 and on ESPN+. For more information, visit 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.