Wisconsin Rapids, WI- Kyle Larson (Dakota Wesleyan), 0-0, and Griffin Glaude (Central Arkansas), 1-3, combined to toss the final six innings Tuesday night while not allowing a base hit, but the St. Cloud Rox (29-29, 15-6) scored five early runs off Rafters starter, Nick Maiers (St. Cloud State), 1-2, to earn the two-game sweep, 5-4. The loss is the third-straight for the Rafters and the team is now just 1-6 in their last seven games played.
The loss to St. Cloud drops the Rafters to 0-2 in inter-division play this season while also bringing their record in the month of July to a staggering 8-17.
The Rox used the same formula Tuesday night that the team used Sunday to top the Rafters: score early and hang on. Devin Pearson (California) tripled down the right field line and Adam Martin (Western Carolina) singled up the middle off Maiers to give the Rox an early lead, 1-0. St. Cloud added another run after Luke Weber (South Carolina-Upstate) singled and Daniel Comstock (Menlo College) walked to load the bases. Chris Paul (California) brought the second run around on a sacrifice fly to center field to extend the lead, 2-0.
The Rafters, though resilient, responded with a run in the first after George Ragsdale (Virginia) singled and Jackson Slaid (Montevallo) doubled off the center field wall to plate Ragsdale to bring the Rafters to within one run, 2-1.
Maiers struggled all evening as the St. Cloud, Minn. native allowed five runs in three innings pitched after facing eight batters. The Rox added three more runs in the second and third inning off five hits, including a booming home run by Dustin Breshears (St. John’s), his first of the season, to give the Rox the advantage, 5-1.
From there the game belonged to Wisconsin Rapids as the Rafters clubbed a combined five extra base hits throughout the evening, including doubles by Coman, Curl, Ragsdale and Slaid. Ragsdale accounted for two of the Rafters three runs as the freshman reached on a double down the left field corner to lead off the third inning. The double was just the fifth of the season for Ragsdale and was part of a two-hit day, his fourth of the season. After back-to-back walks to Donnie Dewees (North Florida) and Slaid, Robbie Coman (Virginia) earned his first RBI of the night by lifting a fly ball to deep right field to plate the Rafters second run of the game and draw the score closer, 5-2.
Larson relieved Maiers in the fourth inning and recorded the Rafters first scoreless defensive frame by facing four batters and inducing a 3-6-3 double play ball. Larson, pitching on his 22nd birthday, tossed 3 2/3 innings, facing 14 batters and not issuing a walk. Larson’s excellence was just enough to give the Rafters a chance in the ballgame.
Dewees and Coman added another Rafter run in the fifth inning when both players doubled to bring the game within two runs. The double by Coman earned him his second RBI of the day, just his third multi-RBI game of the season.
The big tipping point came in the eighth inning after Jeremy Montalbano (Texas) and Michael Jurgella (St. Cloud State) each reached in the eighth inning with nobody out. With both runners on base, Marcus Wheeler (Kansas) stepped to the plate representing the tying run. Adam Maxon (Jacksonville) managed to get Wheeler to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to give the Rafters two outs in the inning. Charlie Curl (Texas A&M) brought around the only run of the inning on a double to deep center field to bring the score to within one, 4-5.
Glaude tossed the final 2 1/3 innings of work, stiking out four and retiring his first seven batters faced, but the Rafters couldn’t add any run support the rest of the way. Glaude, since returning to the bullpen, has not allowed a run in his last seven innings, spanning the course of five outings.
The Rafters will continue an eight-game home stand on Wednesday night at Witter Field when Wisconsin Rapids and Alexandria Blue Anchors open up a two-game series. Wednesday game will mark the first meeting of the season for the Rafters against a against Alexandria with first pitch commencing at 7:05 p.m. The eight-game home stand is the longest of the season and includes six games against clubs with winning records. Rafters fans can listen to tomorrow night’s ballgame by tuning into 1320 AM WFHR or by tuning into the leagues YouTube channel.
COURTESY WISCONSIN RAPIDS RAFTERS