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Hawks Talk: RiverHawks win first series since All-Star break

August 5, 2009

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After being swept in three games on the road by the Evansville Otters, the Rockford RiverHawks saw their record drop to 4-9 since the 2009 Frontier League All-Star break. As they returned to Road Ranger Stadium Saturday, Aug. 1, to start a six-night home stand, they were one game under .500 at 30-31 and in danger of falling further behind the first-place River City Rascals.

After being swept on the road in a doubleheader for the first time since May 23, 2004, the RiverHawks were scheduled to play their sixth twin bill of 2009 against the River City Rascals beneath the lights in Loves Park. The RiverHawks had been struggling since the All-Star break, and those struggles included losing each of the five series played in that time. Desperate for a win, and looking to make up ground in the West division, the RiverHawks turned to their two hottest pitchers to stop their backward slide.

Brett Durand (7-3) took the mound in game one and pitched his first career complete game shut-out in Rockford’s 3-0 victory. He struck out eight batters and walked just two en route to winning his third straight start. The RiverHawks scored twice in the bottom half of the opening frame on RBI singles by Robert Sabates and Alex Bardeguez, and never trailed. Doug Sanders added an RBI single in the bottom of the third, and Durand smothered the Rascals the rest of the way, keeping them off the scoreboard.

In the nightcap, RiverHawks’ ace Kyle Wright (9-1) won his ninth straight decision in the 6-1 win. Wright scattered six hits, struck out eight Rascals and did not allow a walk while picking up the complete-game victory. Derrick Walker blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the first —one of his four hits in the doubleheader—to put the RiverHawks on top for good.

Before giving up a solo home run to Danny Sawyer in the top of the fifth inning, Wright had not allowed an earned run in 30 consecutive innings. Sawyer’s homer was just the second earned run Wright had allowed in his previous 36 2/3 innings. Wright has won his last nine decisions, and finished the month of July with an earned run average (ERA) of 0.29.

Coming off the two-game sweep Saturday, the RiverHawks looked to the suddenly resurgent Jay Monti (6-6) to pull another game closer to the division-leading Rascals. Monti pitched 7 2/3 innings while picking up the RiverHawks’ third straight victory, which ensured Rockford its first series win since the middle of July. Rockford won 8-2, and Monti allowed two runs, one earned, and struck out a career-best eight batters without giving up a walk.

Rockford took the lead for good on an RBI ground-out from Sabates in the bottom of the first inning, and Monti took care of the rest. Ben Blumenthal crushed a three-run homer off River City starter Pablo Lopez in the sixth, putting the game out of reach for the Rascals.

Blumenthal has feasted on River City pitching in 2009, as he has hit a scorching .455 (10-for-22) with four home runs and 10 RBI in seven games against the Rascals.

The win pulled Rockford to within three games of the Rascals, and put them in the thick of the 2009 playoff hunt.

The series with the Rascals concluded on Monday, and the results of that game were not available at press time. Next, the RiverHawks host a three-game series at Road Ranger Stadium against the Evansville Otters.

Player news

Saturday, Aug. 1, the RiverHawks signed OF Mike Tansey and P Ferdin Tejada. They also released P Mike Rogers, their 2009 opening-day starter, and P Cody Sharp.

1B Todd Martin (wrist), P Marcus Mackenzie (sprained ankle) and P Jose Mateo (forearm strain) are on the 14-day disabled list. All three players were eligible for activation Aug. 3.

Promotional calendar

Aug. 5: Family Value Night, $40 gets a family of four: four outfield box seats, four hot dogs and four soft drinks.

Aug. 6: Miller Lite Dollar Beer Night and Doctors vs. Lawyers softball game before the first pitch against the Evansville Otters.

Aug. 11: Two-for-Tuesday—all tickets and hot dogs are buy one, get one free.

from the August 5 – 11, 2009 issue

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