Rafters host longest season opener in Northwoods League history
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI – The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters opened the 2021 season against the Wisconsin Woodchucks and were halted by rain delays following the first inning and midway through the top of the fourth. In a game that lasted until 12:30am local time, the Rafters lost 4-3 in 10 innings.
The first inning saw five strikeouts, three by Rafters’ starter Justin Beyer (Wagner) and two from Woodchucks starter Ryan Lobus (Mercer).
Lighting struck before the second inning and the game went under a 59-minute delay. Action resumed for 20 minutes but with two outs left in the top of the fourth, hail and heavy rain caused another two hour delay. The game resumed shortly after 10pm.
Scoring began in the sixth inning after Nathan Hemmerling (Lakeland), who got to first after a pass ball on a strikeout, moved to third on a fielder’s choice from Elijah Dickerson (La Salle). Hemmerling was brought home by Blake Mann (St. Mary’s). Dickerson scored home after a pass ball from Woodchucks’ Dante Chirico.
The Woodchucks responded in the seventh after Noah Fitzgerald hit a leadoff double and was then plated by Dalton Reeves. Reeves tried to score off a base hit from Tyler Kehoe but was thrown out at home with a toss from Dickerson.
In the top of the eighth, Clayton Mehlbauer singled home Kevin Kilpatrick to tie the game. Both runs came off Collin Kiernan, but only one was earned.
The game was tied up after the ninth following strong performances by Woodchucks’ Geo Camfield and Rafters’ Billy Black. In the tenth with a runner starting on second base, the Woodchucks had four singles off Black to go ahead 4-2.
The bottom of the tenth saw two walks that loaded the bases for the Rafters. Mann struck out, Duran hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring the score within one and Angelo D’Acunto flew out to right to end the game.