By Bill Smith
LOVES PARK, Ill. — The Rockford RiverHawks dropped four of six games from Aug. 7-12 to finish a lengthy 12-game road trip with a 3-9 record.
In the series opener at Southern Illinois, four Rockford pitchers combined on a 1-0 shutout against the Miners.
Ziggie VanderWall (6-4) scattered seven hits and five walks over six scoreless innings to pick up the win, and the bullpen combined for three innings of hitless relief to shut down an offense that scored 31 runs against the RiverHawks in a series June 8-10. The game’s lone run came in the first inning as Ted Obregon stole third base and scored on an error by catcher Chris Anderson.
Garrett Granitz picked up his ninth save of the year, and Miners’ starter Daniel Calhoun (5-3) was the tough-luck loser after giving up an unearned run over eight frames.
The following night, the Miners pounded out 15 hits and prevailed 8-2 over the RiverHawks. The RiverHawks loaded the bases on three separate occasions but only managed to score one run. Evan Button homered in the loss for Rockford.
Kyle Lindquist (0-1) did not make it out of the third inning in his second start and took the loss. Southern Illinois starter Shawn Gilblair (9-4) allowed two runs over six innings while striking out six for the win. Gerardo Avila went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs for the Miners.
In the series finale, the Miners hit Rockford starter Cody Hallahan (5-6) hard for eight runs in two-plus innings en route to a 9-4 victory.
They scored four times in the first inning, including a leadoff solo shot by Cory Harrilchak, a solo shot by Avila and two-run double by Jake Kaase. In the third inning, the Miners hit five consecutive base hits to chase Hallahan. Cody Hall (7-0) remained unbeaten as he allowed two earned runs in six innings.
Button hit his eighth home run of the season and second in as many nights in the loss.
Prior to the game, the RiverHawks traded All-Star outfielder Javier Herrera to the Miners for three players to be named later. Herrera led Rockford with a .338 batting average to go with eight homers and 64 RBIs.
Rockford also placed Carlos Luciano back on the DL because of a shoulder ailment. With two roster spots open, the RiverHawks picked up infielder Trevor Whyte and outfielder Jimmy Parque from Las Cruces of the semi-pro Pecos League in a trade for future considerations prior to opening a series at the Joliet Slammers.
Friday, Aug. 10, the RiverHawks beat the Slammers 4-3 in 13 innings. Trailing 2-0 in the ninth inning, Rockford scored twice to tie the game. In the 13th inning, Greg Van Horn was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force home a run, and the RiverHawks got another on a wild pitch to make it 4-2.
The Slammers scored once in the bottom half of the inning to make it 4-3, but closer Granitz (2-2), who pitched 3 2/3 innings in relief for the win, got Kyle Maunus to pop out to second base to end the game.
Chase Doremus (2-2) was saddled with the loss.
In game two of the series, Rockford’s Drew Rucinski (6-2) struck out a season-high 10 batters over 7 2/3 innings, but took his first loss as a starter in a 2-1 defeat to Joliet.
Rockford took a 1-0 lead on a fourth-inning RBI double by Jet Butler, but Joliet answered with a run in the bottom half, and David Fox delivered the go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning.
Tommy Mendoza (4-5) surrendered one run in 7 2/3 innings for the win, and Amalio Diaz picked up his 19th save of the year.
In the series finale Sunday, Aug. 12, the Slammers used a big four-run fourth inning to help propel them to an 8-4 win and series victory.
Matt Sommo (2-1) allowed three runs over six innings to pick up the win, while VanderWall (6-5) allowed six runs and did not make it out of the fourth inning in a losing effort.
David Christensen and Erik Lis both homered in the win for Joliet.
For Rockford, Justino Cuevas went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, and Parque went 4-for-5 in the loss.
The RiverHawks have a 33-45 record and are in sixth place (out of seven) in the Frontier League West Division.
The RiverHawks return home to host the Florence Freedom Aug. 14-16. Following that series, they play at the Normal CornBelters Aug. 17-19, before returning home to host the Washington Wild Things Aug. 21-23.
From the Aug. 15-21, 2012, issue