Wisconsin Rapids, WI - An early dip into the reliever pool, four errors, and a silent eight innings from the offense doomed the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in 5-1 loss to the Eau Claire Express. 1,851 fans turned out to Witter Field Sunday night, the largest crowd of the season.
A pitch limit put the Rafters pitching staff behind the eight ball when starter Mike Huckabay had to leave after the first inning. Huckabay allowed one unearned run, but threw 35 pitches and had to leave the game. Zach Mercer came on in the second inning and allowed a pair of runs to give the Express a 3-1 lead after two.
Back to back hits leading off the game from Cody Koback and Justin Jirschele provided the Rafters the chance for what turned out to be their only run. Brandon Hohl drove Koback in from third base with a sacrifice fly. From there on the Rafters notched just three more base hits, two coming in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Rafters stranded those runners on to end the game.
Despite being tossed into the game early, Skyler Debilzen made the most of his four inning relief appearance. The righty held the Express scoreless from the third through the sixth inning allowing four hits, but stranding five total base runners. The scoreless outing gives Debilzen a franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched. The sophomore from UW-La Crosse has now pitched fifteen and one thirds innings over fifteen straight appearances without allowing a run of any kind.
With his new record in the books, Debilzen gave way in the seventh inning to Evan Stermer who worked a scoreless inning, with a strike-out. Stermer though loaded the bases with no one out in the eighth and allowed a run before leaving the game after an inning and one third. Joie Dunyon came on and finished the eighth, but allowed another single run in the top of the ninth to set the final score at 5-1.
Courtesy: Rafters Sports Information