Woodchucks eliminated in playoffs by Rafters

Woodchucks Eliminated in 9-1 Loss to Rafters

WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis – In a winner-take-all game three of the Great Lakes West sub-divisional series, the Wausau Woodchucks were eliminated in a 9-1 loss to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.

A seven-run fifth inning proved decisive for the Rafters, who blasted a pair of three-run homers in the frame to stun the Woodchucks – ending their magical second half run at Witter Field Tuesday night.

Early in the game, starter Jace Baumann (UW-Stout) kept the Rats off the board. He induced a pair of inning-ending double play grounders, carrying momentum from a seven-inning gem Friday night in the Woodchucks’ playoff clincher.

On the other side, Rafter righty Cooper Robinson (UC-Irvine) held serve – until a pair of walks opened the door for the Woodchucks in the top of the third.

Jc Ng (Pomona-Pitzer) laid a sacrifice bunt, moving both Jakob Boos (UW-Stevens Point) and Maurice Gomez (Keiser) into scoring position.

Chase Hug (Evansville) belted a line-drive to center field, which fell into the glove of Brady Jurgella (Minnesota). It was deep enough to plate Boos from third, giving Wausau a 1-0 lead.

Baumann did not allow an earned run over his final 15 innings on the mound this season. But a pair of errors by the Woodchucks in the fifth set the stage for a Rafter ambush.

Wisconsin Rapids tied the game on an overthrow at third base by Baumann – who was trying to get the lead runner out on a bunt.

Aidan Brewer (Hillsdale) homered to left field two batters later, putting the Rafters in front 4-1.

With the crowd energized, the Rafters rallied for three more off Woodchuck reliever Brock Warren (Ripon). A double and a walk brought Jacob Igawa (Hawaii) to the plate with two outs. His no-doubter to left field put the game virtually out of reach.

Two more Rafter runs would score, but the Woodchucks were unable to mount much of a response in the late innings. Hug and Brock Larsen (Century) each led off innings with hits, but no Woodchuck would advance past second for the remainder of the night. Robinson worked a collegiate career-long seven innings in a victory.

A traveling crowd of Woodchuck fans cheered until the final out, but the Rafters hung on comfortably by a final score of 9-1.

The 2022 Woodchucks put together a spectacular stretch run. Trailing the Dock Spiders and Chinooks by three and a-half games during the Major League Dreams Showcase Aug. 2, the Chucks reeled off seven straight wins to take second place in the overall standings with a record of 38-33.

They won nine of their final 11 games to bring playoff baseball back to Wausau for the first time since 2014. A win last night was their first playoff victory since 2010. But they fell one game short of capturing the team’s first playoff series win since taking home the NWL championship in 2003.

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The Wausau Woodchucks 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. Now in its’ 29th 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, 300 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 and on ESPN+. For more information, visit www.woodchucks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Woodchucks 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]