Eau Claire, WI (Press Release)– June 19, 2012 – The third time was the charm Tuesday for the Rafters, who traveled to Eau Claire to take on the Express at Carson park, coming away with their first win in three trips. A 5-1 hole was dug out of in a Rafters four-run fifth, and Wisconsin Rapids claimed an 8-7 win in front of 1,726 on a hot and sunny evening.
Unlike most nights, the Rafters scored first. After his final at-bat Monday night, a towering grand slam to give the Rafters a 5-4 lead Monday night, Brandon Hohl (JR, Univ. of Illinois) punished a ball to left once again in his first trip on Tuesday. The ball landed at midfield of Carson Park football stadium that stretches adjacent to the left field fence. The homer, Hohl's second, gave the Rafters the early 1-0 lead.
Long balls from Ryan Shober and Nick Addison, his second in two games, gave the Express a commanding 5-1 lead in the middle innings though. Both of them were hit off of Nestor Bautista (SO, Ball St. Univ), who had his roughest outing of the season.
Bautista went just 3-plus innings, allowing eight hits, three of them for extra bases. He walked a pair of Express hitters and struck out just one.
The Rafters bullpen, asked to string together their longest effort of the season, tossed six-innings of one-run ball. Kyle Bumpas (SO, St. Mary's University) had his sharpest effort of the summer. The lone lefty in the Wisconsin Rapids bullpen threw three scoreless innings. He allowed only two hits, walked nobody, and struck out three, mixing in a slow looping curveball and changeup in the mid 60s to go along with his low to mid 80s heater.
Kenny Towns (FR, Univ. of Virginia) and Ronnie Muck (SO, Univ. of Illinois) combined to throw the next two innings, allowing one run.
Four in the fifth tied the game at five for the Rafters, who took a 6-5 lead in the 7th with another run. Aaron Gretz (FR, Ohio State Univ.) and Aaron Jones (JR, Winston Salem State Univ.) knocked in all five runs in the two innings. The two combined to go 5-for-9 with 7 RBI. The unlikely heroes were just 9-for-48 and the pair hit just 2-for-27 with runners in scoring position before their big run-scoring knocks on Tuesday.
After Eau Claire tied it in the eighth at 6-6, Gretz and Jones teamed up again in the ninth, each knocking in a run to give the Rafters the 8-6 lead.
Seth Fuller (FR, Western Illinois Univ.) had, statistically, his worst outing but got the job done in the ninth. The Express got a run on a Nick Bullington double and had the bases loaded down just one, but Fuller struck out Nick Addison looking to end it. It was the first time the freshman had allowed a run all season.
The victory was the Rafters seventh in-a-row, the longest streak in the history of the Rafters, and began on the heels of a six-game losing streak. The 6-5 win marked the eleventh time the Rafters have played in a one-run game this season, going 6-5 in those eleven.
The Rafters (12-9), still in a second place tie with Green Bay who won once again against Madison, return home to take on Eau Claire (7-14) one more time. The meeting will be the sixth time the two teams play in the first 22 games and the last time until July 9th the two lock horns.