Rafters Weekend Roundup: Team finishes regular season, starts postseason
By Jacob Heid
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — History only comes every so often in sports. The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters concluded a truly historic 2022 regular season in the Northwoods League this past weekend. The team finished with a 57-15 record, topping the league wins record by five games. A combined team effort, the team finished the weekend 2-1, one of which was a playoff game.
The regular season concluded on Aug 13, with the playoffs starting on Aug 14.
Game 1 – Rafters 8, Dock Spiders 2
The Rafters picked up a win in dominant fashion in their last home game of the regular season on Aug 12. The Rafters’ pitching took control of the game. Starter Cooper Robinson pitched his first two innings, giving up zero runs. The Rafters started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning. A wild pitch and bases-loaded walk gave Rapids a 2-0 advantage after two innings.
Robinson did more of the same in the third and fourth inning, ending his evening with a no-hit performance. The bullpen would be called on for the remainder of the game. The Rafters’ offense gave the bullpen more run support in the bottom of the fourth. Another wild pitch by the Dock Spiders gave the Rafters a 3-0 lead.
Cody Urban came out of the pen for Rapids to start the fifth. He pitched a scoreless frame, keeping the 3-0 lead. The Rafters continued to tack on runs, this time a solo homer from Garrett Broussard that put the score to 4-0.
The top of the sixth and seventh inning were the only times Fond Du Lac threatened to score. Fond Du Lac failed to cross home plate with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. Urban struck two straight batters out and forced a pop-up to get out of the jam. The Dock Spiders scored their only two runs in the seventh.
With dominant pitching in the game, the Rafters’ bats kept extending the game out of reach. They scored four runs between the seventh and eighth innings, taking an 8-2 lead into the ninth. Preston Howey pitched the final inning and closed out the Dock Spiders to secure the win.
Game 2 – Rafters 4, Dock Spiders 10
Wisconsin Rapids wrapped up the regular season on the road in Fond Du Lac on Aug 13. The Rafters picked up only their 15th loss of the season.
The two teams traded zeros for the first couple of innings before the scoring began in the bottom of the third inning. The Dock Spiders took a 1-0 lead from a sac-fly. Rafters’ starting pitcher Brandon Scott went four innings, surrendering one run on four hits. After a great outing from the bullpen on Friday, they struggled on the road in this game. Fond Du Lac crossed the plate five times in the fifth after Scott exited the game. That made it a 6-0 ball game after five innings.
An RBI triple from Colin Tuft in the top of the sixth finally got the Rafters on the board. Rapids cut more into the lead in the seventh from a flyball by Chris Conniff that scored another run. The Rats still trailed 6-2. Fond Du Lac extended the lead back to seven with a three-run seventh inning. Jacob Igawa scored the final two runs for the Rafters in the eighth with his fifth home run of the season, but the Rafters’ offense didn’t have enough juice. The Dock Spiders handed Rapids a loss in the final game of the regular season.
Game 3 – Rafters 6, Woodchucks 3
The third game of the weekend happened on Aug 14, and it was the first game of the Northwoods League playoffs. The Rafters traveled to Wausau for the first game of a best-of-three series. Wisconsin Rapids had a come-from-behind victory in game one.
The Rafters got on the board right away in the top of the first. Garrett Broussard hit an RBI single to give Rapids a 1-0 lead. A pitcher’s duel ensued for the next three innings until Wausau tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. After that, the two teams went back and forth offensively.
The Rats answered and took the lead back in the fifth off of an RBI single by Collin Tuft. The Woodchucks tied the game again in the sixth. Wausau then took its first lead of the night in the bottom of the seventh, a 3-2 game with two innings left. The Rafters never gave up and loaded the bases in the eighth. Rapids took advantage of a wild pitch and a throwing error and took a 4-3 lead. A two-man effort put down the Woodchucks one-two-three in the eighth. Rapids tacked on a couple of insurance runs in the top of the ninth with a two-run homer by Andrew Semo. That gave the Rafters a 6-3 advantage.
Preston Howey closed the door in game one, retiring Wausau in order to end the game.
The Rafters will head to Witter Field to play Wausau on Aug 15 in game two of the first round of the playoffs.
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