The Milton Junction Pub Raptors went to Neosho Sunday with hopes of hatching a fresh path to the Rock River League post season and instead laid a huge egg that scrambled their playoff chances.
The Raptors were bitten by a couple of third-inning errors that led to an incredible 12-run inning by the Rockets, turning a 3-3 game into a run-away that ended 19-3 after seven innings. The loss dropped the Raptors to 4-4 in the RRL South Division race, a game in the loss column behind Lebanon for the fourth and final playoff spot. Neosho, meanwhile, solidified its hold on second place with a 6-2 record.
“Saturday night I was thinking we’d be taking up there 12 or 13 guys and we’d have as good a lineup as we’ve had all year,” Raptors manager Doug Welch said. “We knew Lebanon got beat by Johnson Creek so here was an opportunity to make some ground.
“Then we had two family emergencies and then this happened and that happened and pretty soon we’re cobbling together nine guys,” Welch continued. “Neosho’s a team we swept last year and they beat us 4-3 earlier this year. It just goes to show that if you don’t come prepared in this league, you’re going to get it handed to you. We’ve been on both sides of these deals.”
The Raptors have a big weekend ahead that could get themselves back into the thick of the playoff race. Friday night the Raptors host Johnson Creek in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Schilberg Park. Then on Sunday the Raptors travel to Hustisford to take on the first-place Astros.
Sunday’s game at Neosho got off on the wrong foot when the Rockets touched Raptor starter Sam McCann for three runs in the bottom of the first frame.
But the Raptors battled back to tie the game in the top of the third. Dan Haueter singled with two out and Connor Schneider followed with a walk. McCauley Cox then lifted a booming double over the head of the right fielder to score Haueter and Schneider. Josh Shere followed with a double to left-center to score Cox and tie the game.
The wheels fell off the Raptor wagon in the bottom of the third after a potential double-play grounder was booted with one out. Another error prolonged the inning that finally ended with Neosho leading, 15-3.