Written by Raptors Broadcaster Patrick McColl

With the smoke of Independence Day fireworks out of the air, the Raptors are looking to refocus and return to the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (RORC) for a three-game series against the Cowlitz Black Bears.

Ridgefield (10-16) starts the second half of the season with a game in the annual Columbia River Cup. The Raptors played the Black Bears on May 30 and lost 4-1 in an exhibition game that did not count towards either team’s record in the West Coast League (WCL). Friday’s game will be the first of the second half and will count towards the standings with Cowlitz up 1-0 in the seven game season series.

In their most recent series, the ‘Raps lost three against the Corvallis Knights, dropping the last two games by just one run. Utah Tech’s Hunter Katschke continues a strong start, now leading the Raptors with a .362 batting average. The 6-foot-3 outfielder notched a season-high four hits against Corvallis in Game 1, slugging two doubles.

Pepperdine starter Dylan Stewart continues to stand out for Ridgefield. The Wave allowed just one earned run against Corvallis and has not given up more than two runs in any of his five starts this season. Out of the bullpen, reliever Carson Kruckman has pitched six times and only allowed one run to score this season. The Western Oregon commit has struck out eight batters and walked only three.

Cowlitz (11-16) starts the race for the second half title in the South Division needing a bounce back series after being swept by the Yakima Valley Pippins at Yakima County Stadium.

The Black Bears have seen a strong season from infielder Keaton Grady and outfielder Dylan Schlaegel. Grady is second on the team in RBI (11) despite playing only 14 games. Schlaegel’s .323 batting average is 13th in the WCL. The Dallas Baptist product has hit two home runs and scored 14 times.

On the mound, St. Martin’s Nikki Scott has pitched to a 2.60 ERA in 17.1 innings this season. Portland Pilot Ryan Rembisz leads Cowlitz with 18 strikeouts. The starter has only allowed one earned run in 14 innings this year.

All games in the series will start at 6:35 p.m. Sunday’s game was initially scheduled for 1:05 p.m., but high forecasted temperatures around the middle of the day in Ridgefield have pushed back the start time. After the Cowlitz series, Ridgefield will stay at home to play the Walla Walla Sweets.

Tickets to the home series against Cowlitz and Walla Walla are available on ridgefieldraptors.com. The live stream to watch or listen to the games will be available on ridgefieldraptors.com/stream. #GoRaps