Pro Baseball: RiverHawks stumble to start road trip
By Bill Smith
LOVES PARK, Ill. — The Rockford RiverHawks stumbled to a 1-5 record halfway through their 12-game road trip.
Rockford played a three-game series at the Lake Erie Crushers, and they fell 2-1 in 12 innings in the opening game as Wally Correa delivered a game-winning RBI base hit.
The Crushers scored in the first inning off Drew Rucinski on a Russell MoldenHauer RBI double, but the RiverHawks answered with a run of their own in the fourth inning on an RBI groundout by Javier Herrera.
Lake Erie’s Eric Gonzalez-Diaz allowed just one hit in eight innings in a no-decision, and closer Jonathan Kountis (4-2) got the win. Correa, who entered the game as a defensive replacement at short, laced a Jordan Goldschmidt (0-1) two-strike pitch just inside the third-base bag to win the game.
The RiverHawks lost a 5-4 heartbreaker the following night as the Crushers rallied for four runs in the ninth inning off closer Garrett Granitz (1-2) to win.
Andrew Bowman’s two-out, two-run single gave Lake Erie its fifth walkoff victory in its last eight games.
Rockford had led since the third inning and took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Granitz allowed all four runs after two outs. He even had two strikes on three of the final four batters, but Bowman’s single plated Jason Taylor and Aaron Klinec to end the game.
Travis Risser (4-3) gave up a run in an inning of relief, but picked up the win.
The following night, Thursday, Aug. 2, the Crushers completed the series sweep with a 1-0 shutout victory.
Ted Obregon and Matt Greener both had two hits for Rockford, which tallied just five on the night.
Kyle Lindquist pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless ball in an emergency start for Rockford, but Mickey Cassidy (2-2) surrendered the game’s only run on a Kyle Weldon two-out, pinch-hit RBI single.
Ben Klafczynski (3-1) struck out two in a perfect eighth inning to earn the victory, and closer Kountis retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his 13th save.
The RiverHawks dropped two of three games against the Windy City ThunderBolts Aug. 3-5.
In the first contest, Rockford was shut out for a second consecutive night as Windy City ace Mike Recchia (10-2) earned a league record in a complete-game shutout 4-0 victory.
Recchia struck out seven in the shutout, and he broke a record by earning his fifth shutout victory of the season, breaking the previous record of four held by three former Frontier League pitchers.
Rockford’s Cody Hallahan pitched six scoreless innings, but Nelson Curry (0-1) surrendered three unearned runs in the seventh inning to break a scoreless tie. Brandon Anderson went 3-for-4 in the loss.
The two teams played a doubleheader Sunday, Aug. 5, following a rainout the previous day. In game one, the first of two seven-inning contests, the ThunderBolts won 8-4 to extend the RiverHawks’ losing streak to a season-worst six games.
Kyle Schepel (3-4) yielded seven runs in four innings to lose his third-straight start. Windy City’s Dustin Williams (10-4) gave up four runs in five innings and got the win.
Windy City scored four times in the second inning to break a 1-1 tie. Rockford’s Herrera hit his eighth home run of the season in the loss.
In the nightcap, RiverHawks’ starter Rucinski (6-1) stopped the skid by pitching Rockford to a 5-1 victory.
Rucinski limited the ThunderBolts to four hits and one run while striking out six in six innings of work. Blayne Weller (4-2) struck out seven batters, but he gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings in a losing effort.
Evan Button and Herrera both went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the win.
The RiverHawks play at the Southern Illinois Miners from Aug. 7-9. They remain on the road at the Joliet Slammers from Aug. 10-12, before returning home to host the Florence Freedom for a series beginning Tuesday, Aug. 14.
At press time, the RiverHawks (31-41) were in fifth place (out of seven) in the Frontier League West Division, 12 games behind the division-leading Gateway Grizzlies (43-29).
From the Aug. 8-14, 2012, issue