Baseball: RiverHawks finish the week 3-4, begin six-game road trip

By Bill Smith

The Rockford RiverHawks had a 3-4 record the past week as they took two of three games at home against the Windy City ThunderBolts, were swept on the road by the Schaumburg Boomers, and won the opener at home against the Gateway Grizzlies on Father’s Day.

Against the ThunderBolts, Michael Hur powered the offense, driving in seven runs in the three-game series. He went 3-for-5 with two homers and five RBI in the series opener June 11, a 12-8 Rockford win. Rockford native Ziggie VanderWall earned his second win of the season on the mound, allowing three earned runs over 5 2/3 innings while striking out eight.

The RiverHawks would win a 3-1 decision the following game behind a strong pitching performance by Mike Lee, who joined the rotation June 7 after serving as the team’s closer for the first part of the season. With scouts on hand, Lee pitched six innings of one-run ball while striking out seven, and Hur’s go-ahead RBI double in the fourth inning was enough for the victory. In that game, Cliff Archibald earned his first save of the season.

In the series finale, the RiverHawks were defeated 12-5, with one of the few bright spots being Greg Van Horn’s first homer of the season in the ninth inning.

Rockford did not have the benefit of a day off, so they commuted to Schaumburg to open up a three-game series with the Boomers beginning Thursday, June 14. In the opener, newly-acquired Jordan Liette pitched 5 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, and the RiverHawks led 2-0 into the eighth inning, but the bullpen gave up three runs in that frame, and Rockford lost by that 3-2 score. The offense struggled to hit Schaumburg pitching again, and the Boomers used a big seven-run first inning to propel them to an 11-0 victory.

In the series finale, Rockford led 5-2 into the sixth inning, but Schaumburg plated five runs in that inning to grab the lead and pick up an 8-6 victory. Catcher Van Horn was 3-for-4 with two RBI in that game, and Jet Butler went 2-for-4 with two RBI.

The RiverHawks returned home Sunday, June 17, to open a series with the Gateway Grizzlies, and they snapped their four-game losing streak with a 6-4 win. Trailing 3-0 into the fifth inning, the RiverHawks scored five times in the inning to take the lead, highlighted by Butler’s two-run single and Javier Herrera’s go-ahead three-run homer, his fourth of the season, to put Rockford ahead 5-3. Lee earned the win on the mound to improve to 2-0 on the season. Rockford pitchers combined to strike out 15 Grizzlies’ batters in the game, and newly-acquired Brett Scarpetta earned the save in his first appearance of the season.

The RiverHawks have added righties Scarpetta and Nelson Curry to their bullpen as well as lefty Andrew Armstrong, and they released Kasey Kiker.

The RiverHawks stand at 10-17 for the season and are in sixth place out of seven teams in the Frontier League West Division. Rockford leads the Frontier League with a .284 team batting average, but they also have the worst earned-run average in the league at 5.82. The next closest team, the Washington Wild Things, has a 4.25 ERA.

Herrera is hitting a team-leading .385, second-best in the Frontier League, to go along with 26 RBI. Lee has struck out 34 batters in just 22 2/3 innings of work.

The RiverHawks continue their series with the Gateway Grizzlies before they hit the road for a six-game road trip beginning Wednesday, June 20, with the Normal CornBelters. They will travel to Schaumburg again beginning Saturday, June 23, for another series with the Boomers.

From the June 20-26, 2012, issue

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