Igawa Walks Another One Off in Rafters 6-5 Victory

Igawa Walks Another One Off in Rafters 6-5 Victory

Rafters hang around long enough earn their 46th victory of the 2022

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. –  Sometimes in sports, there is an athlete that comes along every so often that has that “it” factor.  Maybe it is a quarterback engineering a game-winning drive in football or a sharpshooter in basketball who hits the clutch shots.  However, for the Rafters, Jacob Igawa has the “it” factor when it comes to walk-off hits. He knocked his third walk-off of 2022 tonight en route to the Rafters 6-5 win over the Lakeshore Chinooks.

Rafters starter, Nick Torres, retired the Chinooks 1-2-3 in order in the top of the ninth inning.  However, the Rafters were also held scoreless in the bottom of the first as well.  The Chinooks struck first in the top of the second.  A three-run shot from Joey Spence gave Lakeshore a 3-0 lead in the top of the second.  However, the Rafters answered right back with a two-run single off the bat of Aidan Brewer to make it a 3-2 game.

Torres held the Chinooks off the board in the third, but they struck again in the top of the fourth.  An RBI single from Peyton Sanderson put Lakeshore ahead 4-2.  However, Aidan Brewer and the Rats again answered with a sacrifice fly and an RBI to bring Wisconsin Rapids back within one, 4-3.  Torres exited the game after the fourth, as he allowed four runs on six hits, two walks, and struck out four.

Josh Howitt entered to pitch for the Rafters in the top of the fifth and held the Chinooks scoreless.  However, Lakeshore took a two-run lead again in the sixth via a solo homer from Andy Nelson to make it a 5-3 game.  However, Aidan Brewer again came through with his fourth RBI of the night via a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-4 game.

Howitt held Lakeshore off the board in the top of the seventh, and then came the turning point in the ballgame.  Howitt’s Cal State Fullerton teammate, Nate Nankil, stepped up to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh to face Chinooks reliever George Klassen.  On a 2-0 count, Nankil crushed a 96 MPH fastball deep into the night, his fourth of the season, to tie up the game at 5-5.

Howitt again held the Chinooks scoreless in the top of the eighth to end his night.  He gave up one run one hit across four innings, while allowing three walks, and striking out seven.  The Rafters called upon Alec Burnett in the top of the ninth, as he retired the Chinooks in order, 1-2-3.

The top of the lineup was due up for the Rats in the bottom of the ninth.  A one-out single from Seth Stroh put the game-winning run on first.  A Nate Nankil two-out walk moved Stroh over to second to put the game-winning run in scoring position.  Jacob Igawa, AKA “Mr. Clutch ,” stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game.  On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Igawa sent a screaming line drive into center field which brought Stroh home to win the game 6-5.  Igawa’s third walk-off of 2022 powered the Rafters to their 46th win of the season.  Alec Burnett earned the win, as he moved to 2-0 on the year.

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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. Having completed its’ 28th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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 280 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 (NYM), 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 watchnwl.com. For more information, visit www.raftersbaseball.com 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.

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]