Strong start from Heller not good enough for Rafters - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Strong start from Heller not good enough for Rafters

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Size didn't matter Sunday night, as diminutive lefty Matt Trowbridge tossed a gem against the Rafters, as Wisconsin Rapids lost again on the road to the Eau Claire Express, this time 2-1. Another late-inning rally from the Express, the third time they have taken a lead and won in the seventh or later already this summer, gave the 1,504 fans in attendance a home-team win.

While Trowbridge picked up the win, Rafters starter Ben Heller (JR, Olivet Nazarene Univ.) pitched well, picking up the no-decision in his first start. The right-hander threw six strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits, the big one coming in the second, a solo-shot from Tyler Hermann to left field to give the Express a 1-0 lead. Heller walked two and hit a batter but fanned four Eau Claire batters.

"Ben had good stuff tonight," said Rafters Field Manager Jake Martin following the loss, "he had a good fastball, his slider was working, and he commanded both sides of the plate."

After the Hermann homer, the Rafters responded in the fourth with a one-out RBI-single from Josh Cyr (JR, Univ. of North Alabama), his 6th RBI of 2012 to tie time him for the team lead with Alex Bacon (SO, Univ. of North Floirda).

Both starters put up zeros in the fifth and sixth, but when the Rafters went to the pen in the seventh, the Express struck. Skyler Debilzen (JR, UW-Lacrosse), pitching for the second consecutive inning, gave up a leadoff walk to catcher Brian Sicher, and then back-to-back singles from Blake Schmitt and Nick Addison gave the home team the 2-1 lead.

Trowbridge blanked the Rafters in the eighth, his final inning. The lefty retired nine straight Rafters before giving way to Express closer Paul Voelker in the ninth. Voelker, who picked up a one-out save on Friday against the Rafters, fanned the first two he faced Sunday, walked a batter, and got Michael Jurgella (FR, St. Cloud State Univ.) to ground out to finish the ballgame.

Aaron Jones (JR, Winston-Salem State Univ.) and Jordan Dreiling (FR, Univ. of Kanasas) both reached twice Sunday on a pair of walks, but as a team, the Rafters collected just three hits—this coming a night after they put up nine runs on twelve hits against the Express at Witter Field on Saturday evening.

Debilzen took the loss in his first decision while the starter Trowbridge snagged the victory for Eau Claire. Voelker picked up his second save.

With the win, the Express (3-2) move into a four-way tie in the NWL South Division with Madison, La Crosse, and Lakeshore. The loss puts Wisconsin Rapids (2-3) in a four-way knot in fifth with Green Bay, Battle Creek, and Wisconsin (Wausau) in the cluttered division race.

The Rafters head down to Madison Monday to take on the Mallards for the first time this season. The Rafters have won four of their last five against Madison. Next Rafters home game will be against the same Mallards club on Tuesday for Schoep's Ice Cream Bowl Night; fans can receive the giveaway at the front gate will supplies last. 

Courtesy: Wisconsin Rapids Rafters

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