Pro Baseball: RiverHawks drop five straight on final homestand

By Bill Smith

LOVES PARK, Ill. — The Rockford RiverHawks dropped their first five games of their final homestand of the season, a stretch of nine games in 10 days.

In the series opener Tuesday, Aug. 21, at RiverHawks Stadium against the Washington Wild Things, Rockford committed three errors and fell 3-1.

Casey Barnes (5-7) pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run to earn the win. Cody Hallahan (5-8) took the loss despite giving up just one earned run on five hits in six innings of work. In eight of Hallahan’s 17 starts this season, the RiverHawks’ offense has scored two or fewer runs.

The RiverHawks loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Brandon Anderson popped up to shallow center for the first out, and Jimmy Parque bounced into an inning-ending double play.

Orlando Santos pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his ninth save of the season.

In the middle game of the series, Washington took the lead in the third inning Wednesday, Aug. 22, and went on to blow out Rockford by the score of 9-1.

Washington starter Gary Lee (6-4) pitched eight innings of one-run ball to get the win. In two starts against Rockford this year, Lee went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA and nine strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings.

Rockford starter Kyle Schepel (3-6) lost his fifth-straight decision, giving up three earned runs and striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings.

Shain Stoner hit a solo home run, his fifth of the season, in the eighth inning for Washington.

Rockford committed five errors, four by shortstop Carlos Luciano, leading to five of Washington’s nine runs being unearned.

In the series finale Thursday, Aug. 23, Stoner’s first-inning grand slam lifted the Wild Things to an 11-5 victory and series sweep of the RiverHawks.

Stoner’s slam off Rockford’s Drew Rucinski was his second home run in as many nights, and he finished the game 2-for-4 with five RBIs.

Rucinski (6-4) pitched into the eighth inning, but lost his third-straight decision as he gave up seven runs on 11 hits.

Washington’s Shawn Smith (2-4) yielded three runs over five frames and got the win.

Washington’s A.J. Nunziato homered in the fifth inning and finished the night 3-for-5 with three RBIs. Rockford’s Evan Button homered, becoming the first RiverHawk batter to do so at home since he accomplished the feat against the Normal CornBelters July 25.

Wild Things’ Darian Sandford stole five bases in the series to give him 64 on the season, one short of the Frontier League record. However, he was also caught trying to steal five times by catchers Mike Thomas and Greg Van Horn.

Friday, Aug. 24, the RiverHawks opened a series with the Schaumburg Boomers and fell 9-6 after nearly erasing an early 9-0 deficit.

Rockford sent the tying run to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning, but Button grounded out to end the threat.

Cody Griebling (5-2) surrendered two runs over 6 2/3 innings and got the win. Ziggie VanderWall (7-6) did not make it out of the fifth inning and allowed eight runs on eight hits and a season-high seven walks.

The following night, the Boomers launched five home runs Saturday, Aug. 25, in a 15-1 win over the RiverHawks in front of a sellout crowd of 4,167 at RiverHawks Stadium.

Nate Baumann hit a two-run shot in the first inning, and Jereme Milons hit the first grand slam in Boomers’ franchise history.

Matt Kuna (3-4) pitched five effective innings to earn the win.

Nick Anderson (1-3) was chased by the Boomers in the third inning and allowed nine earned runs in the loss.

Brandon Gregorich and Chase Fontaine both hit three-run home runs, both their first of the season. Steve McQuail hit his 20th home run of the season in the eighth inning.

The final game of the series Sunday, Aug. 26, was postponed because of rain. The make-up game was played the following night.

At press time, the RiverHawks stood at 36-53, fifth place in the Frontier League West.

They finish up the season with a three-game series Aug. 28-30 against the Road Warriors, the team that replaced the London Rippers.

Thanks to WIFR, all tickets will be just 23 cents. The game Thursday, Aug. 30, will also feature another Perry Rock $1 Beer Night and American’s Bring it Home Thursday, where a fan will win a 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV from American.

From the Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 2012, issue

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