Rafalski drives in 7, powers Dragons past Bradford
Tweaking his stance just a little bit proved to make a big difference for Warren’s Ryan Rafalski.
The Dragon junior got off to a slow start at the plate this season, but busted out in a big way on Friday, going 3-for-3 with a 3-run home run, two doubles and seven RBI, leading Warren to its fifth straight victory, 11-2 over Bradford.
“I changed my stance a little bit and today was the first day I got show that,” he said. “It worked out for me.”
That might be an understatement.
His bases-loaded walk in the second inning tied the game at 1-1, and then he helped Warren (9-3) put up a 4-spot in the fourth inning courtesy of his 2-run double that chased Bradford (4-8) starter Nolan Roulo.
The following inning he came up with Micah Passmore and Ryan Arnold on base and hit a towering fly ball on a 3-2 pitch that cleared the left field fence to make it 8-2.
His third hit came in the sixth inning, a 2-run double in the sixth that was perhaps the hardest hit of the three. And it came off the third different pitcher he saw.
“It felt great,” he said. “I started slow, but it’s finally starting to click right now.”
On the mound, Nick Hussey started and went two innings, which was by design so he will be available to pitch early next week with a pair of key Region 7 games on tap.
Hussey gave way to Hunter Loomis, who took it the rest of the way. Making just his second appearance on the mound this season, the junior was impressive, allowing just one earned run in his five innings of work, walking one and striking out five.
“Hunter has pitched very well in his limited opportunities this season,” said Warren coach Rick Eaton.
Micah Passmore led off the fourth inning with a single, part of a 3-hit afternoon that raised his average to .400. Ben Berdine followed with a walk and the throw to first on Ryan Arnold’s bunt single was wide of first, allowing both runners to score and the speedy Arnold to advance all the way to third.
That was the beginning of the offensive outburst, which was capped by Tyler Gustafson’s RBI double that followed Rafalski’s double in the sixth.
Arnold continues to be a spark plug, while Aidan Morrison collected two more hits and Mitch Grosch walked twice to bring his team-leading total to 16.
“We have a good, solid lineup, and hopefully we keep scoring runs,” Eaton said.
The Dragons were scheduled to play Fort LeBoeuf this week, but that game was postponed twice and will now be played on Tuesday at LeBoeuf, a day after another key Region 7 showdown with Harbor Creek at home.
Those game will go a long way to determining the region champion and where each team will be slotted in the playoff bracket.
But looming before that is a home date with Jamestown (NY) today.
“We had such a high week last week, getting wins over McDowell and Prep,” noted Eaton. “We just lost our momentum a little bit. We kept thinking we were going to play and we didn’t play. We didn’t come out with that edge we had attained. But overall, we’re right where we want to be. A couple wins in region beginning of the week and then we’ll definitely be where we want to be.”