’Hawks Talk: Rain-outs, shutouts hinder ’Hawks progress

RfdRiverhawks-logo_173-WThe Rockford RiverHawks returned home July 23 after dropping two of three games to the Beach Bums in Traverse City, Mich., to open a three-game homestand against the Southern Illinois Miners. Mother Nature quickly changed the three-game series to a shortened two-game series, as the ominous late July skies poured rain over the Rock River Valley and postponed games scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

The inclement weather created the necessity of a doubleheader at Road Ranger Stadium Saturday, July 25. A sell-out crowd gathered for the final two games of the current homestand on a beautiful July evening, which would see both teams handcuffed by dominant pitching performances.

In the first game of the doubleheader, the RiverHawks were held to just one hit by Southern Illinois starter Ryan Brooks. Jono Brooks collected the RiverHawks’ lone hit in the 10-0 loss.

Tony Roth broke a scoreless tie with a third-inning single. Joey Metropoulos hit a two-run homer, his 18th of the year, in the fourth, and added an RBI double in the Miners’ six-run fifth inning. The RiverHawks committed three errors in the fifth, and Brad Miller hit a three-run homer to knock out Rockford starter Tanner Watson.

Watson (3-2) suffered his worst outing of the 2009 season as he surrendered nine runs, six of which were earned, in 4 1/3 innings pitched.

The second game was also dominated by pitching. However, this time it was Rockford’s ace, Kyle Wright, who delivered the standout performance. Wright (8-1) pitched his first career two-hitter, allowing only two singles by Metropoulos in winning his eighth consecutive decision. Wright’s shutout performance lowered his earned run average to a modern-day microscopic 1.54.

The RiverHawks broke a scoreless tie on Matt Mazurek’s RBI single in the third inning. In the fourth, Brandon Cohen extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI double and scored on Ross McCoy’s fourth home run of the season in the RiverHawks’ 4-0 victory.

The RiverHawks had little time to rest after Saturday night’s twin bill before boarding a bus for O’Fallon, Mo., to begin a six-game road trip. The RiverHawks lost the first game Sunday, July 26, against the West Division-leading River City Rascals 10-7.

The Rascals scored three runs with two outs in the eighth inning off RiverHawks’ reliever Slava Vasilyev (0-1). The three consecutive run-scoring hits allowed by Vasilyev proved to be the difference, as the RiverHawks were unable to mount a late-inning comeback on the road. The back-and-forth battle featured seven lead changes or ties.

Jono Brooks hit his fourth home run of the year, and leadoff man Matt Mazurek was 3-for-4. His RBI single in the seventh inning tied the game at 7-7. Brandon Cohen was 1-for-4 with an RBI to extend his career-best hitting streak to 12 games.

Since the All-Star break, the RiverHawks have dropped six of the nine games they have played, and are four games off the West division lead of the River City Rascals. Overall, Rockford is 29-28, and in the thick of the Frontier League playoff hunt.

The RiverHawks play two more games against the Rascals Monday and Tuesday before starting a three-game series against the Evansville Otters on the road July 29-31. The RiverHawks’ next homestand is scheduled for Aug. 1-3 against the River City Rascals.

Stadium news

The Rockford RiverHawks announced the Power Connection has bought every available seat in the stadium for the Aug. 3 game against the Evansville Otters, and is offering the entire stateline community a night of professional baseball for free.

The Power Connection is a management-labor cooperative between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 364 and the Northern Illinois Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

Fans can visit the team Web site at www.rockfordriverhawks.com to print a voucher for tickets to the game.

Player news

Thursday, July 23, the RiverHawks signed outfielder Derrick Walker. Outfielder Anthony Albano was released.

Walker has played in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. This season, he played with the Visalia Rawhide, the Diamondbacks’ high Class A affiliate in the California League. In 62 games, he batted .200 with no home runs and 18 RBI.

In 2006 and 2007, Walker played with the Missoula Osprey of the rookie Pioneer League. In 2008, he played with the Diamondbacks’ Class A affiliate South Bend in the Midwest League.

Albano was signed by the RiverHawks July 3. In nine games, he batted .222 with one home run and four RBI.

from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue

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