Button home run lifts RiverHawks in 7-3 win, Mike Lee signs with Atlanta Braves
Online Staff Report
WASHINGTON, Pa. — Evan Button had three hits, including a go-ahead home run, as the Rockford RiverHawks beat the Washington Wild Things, 7-3, Wednesday, July 4, at Consol Energy Park.
Button hit a fifth-inning home run off Washington starter Justin Hall to break a 2-2 tie. The RiverHawks beat Hall for the first time in the right-hander’s four career starts against Rockford.
Button, who was 3-for-5 and drove in two runs July 4, has broken out of a recent slump with three-straight multi-hit games.
Washington took an early 2-0 lead on back-to-back, two-out RBI singles by Tanner Leighton and Andrew Heck in the third inning. Rockford tied the game in the fourth on a RBI double by Matt Greener and a RBI single by Mike Thomas.
In the fifth, Button knocked out Hall (2-4) with his second home run of the year, a solo shot to right-center field. Hall twice went the distance and pitched one shutout in three wins against the RiverHawks last season.
Carlos Luciano singled in a sixth-inning run and Rockford added three in the eighth, one on a Button single and two on a Javier Herrera triple.
Rockford starter Ziggie VanderWall combined with four relievers on a five-hitter. VanderWall (4-2) gave up two runs on four hits over five innings for the win.
The series finale is scheduled for 6:05 p.m., Thursday, July 5.
The RiverHawks are home at 7:05 p.m., Friday, July 6, to play Gateway. OSF St. Anthony sponsors postgame fireworks.
Mike Lee signs with Atlanta Braves
LOVES PARK, Ill. — Mike Lee’s next pitch will be as a member of the Atlanta organization.
The Braves signed the Rockford ace to a minor-league contract, the RiverHawks announced July 4. Lee took a 3-0 loss July 3 at Washington in his final Frontier League appearance.
Lee was 3-1 with a 2.20 earned-run average and a save in 13 appearances, six as a starter. The RiverHawks moved him from closer to starter in early June, and Rockford won his first five starts. He struck out 59 and walked 14 in 41 innings. Opposing batters hit just .197 against the right-hander. At the time of his departure, Lee is second in the league in strikeouts and third in ERA. Lee struck out 34 over his last four starts. He was voted to the Frontier League West Division All-Stars, the league announced July 4.
“We’re very happy that he’s getting the shot to go back to affiliated ball,” RiverHawks Manager Rich Austin said. “He definitely deserves it. He’s a hard worker and an outstanding person.”
Lee’s signing is the 17th time in the RiverHawks’ 11 seasons in the stateline that a major-league organization has signed a player directly off the Rockford roster. The last was Drew Rucinski, who signed with the Cleveland Indians the day after he made his professional debut with the RiverHawks in June 2011.
Lee becomes one of three former RiverHawks in affiliated ball. Triple-A pitchers Jim Paduch, with Tampa Bay’s Durham farm club in the International League, and Taylor Sinclair, with Arizona’s Reno affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, are the others.
Lee was Boston’s eighth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He began this season in the bullpen at Class AA Portland in the Eastern League, where he had no record, a 7.00 ERA and no saves in four appearances. Following his release, Lee came to the Frontier League tryout camp and the RiverHawks took him with the No. 1 pick. He opened the year as Rockford’s closer, but had only one save opportunity in the first two weeks of the season.
Lee will likely join either the Class AA Mississippi Braves of the Southern League or high Class A Lynchburg Hillcats of the Carolina League.
The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league in its 20th season. Games are broadcast live on NTA-FM (100.5 FM). Advertising and season-ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit www.rockfordriverhawks.com.
Posted July 5, 2012
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