WISCONSIN RAPIDS (Press Release) - Another lights out pitching performance from the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters staff Monday night earned the Rafters a third straight victory, a franchise long winning streak, blanking the Madison Mallards 2-0. The win also gives the Rafters franchise their first winning record in any half.
The solid pitching night began with the newest Rafter, Paul Schwendel throwing six scoreless innings. The righty faced trouble only once, allowing a pair of base-runners in the fifth inning. Catcher Bart Steponovich helped his starter out of the jam, nabbing a runner on the base paths. This marks the fourth straight game Steponovich has caught a runner stealing. Schwendel ended the night after the sixth, allowing just three hits, walking a pair and striking out four to pick up his first win.
With the solid backing of the pitching staff, an RBI single in the third inning gave the Rafters enough offense to pick up their third win of the half. Bobby Martin doubled and Garrett Nash singled to put two on for Edward. With two outs, the Rafters DH knocked a ball so hard off the wall it turned into a single, but scored two runs to give the Rafters the only lead they would need.
Jacob Doyle began a parade of scoreless relief striking out a two and stranding a runner in the seventh. Evan Stermer allowed a lead-off double and induced a ground out in the eighth before giving way to Joie Dunyon to close out the inning. In the ninth, despite a lead-off walk, Dunyon secured the final three outs for the Rafters first shut-out of 2011.
After watching the Rafters struggle for a season and a half, first base coach John Hessel has a unique appreciation of the Rafters hot streak. "These last three days have been one of the ultimate highs of my career, watching these guys compete and win," Hessel said. Despite the struggles in the first half, Hessel said the team never abandoned their strong work ethic. "Now that they have a winning record in a new half, they know they belong in this league, they belong on the field, and they can play with any team, every night."
Tuesday is Guaranteed Win Night at Witter Field. If the Rafters lose, each fan will be given a voucher good for another Rafters game this season. First pitch against Battle Creek is set for 7:05.
Courtesy: Rafters Press Release