Rivets add two more, continue prep for opening day

Staff Report

Two members of Chicago State University’s baseball program will be joining the Rockford Rivets this summer.

The stateline’s Northwoods League team announced on Wednesday that it has signed catcher Cody Freund and pitcher Jake Perkins for the summer season.

“Jake and Cody come to us with high recommendation from the Chicago State coaching staff,” Rivets manager Brian Smith said. “Pitching coach John Ely (a former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher) and I talk regularly about Jake. Hopefully when Jake gets away for the summer he will be able to relax, have more time to work on his craft and be a major contributor to our pitching staff.”

Perkins, a junior from Huntley, is 2-5 with a 6.38 earned-run average in nine starts. Freund, a sophomore from McHenry, is hitting .236 with a home run and a team-high 20 RBI.

“Cody had a very successful freshman campaign in 2015,” Smith said. “Cody’s lefthanded bat allows us to create a very lefty-heavy lineup on certain occasions. He has a very simple approach at the plate. His simplistic approach should help him transition to the NWL very nicely.”

Gearing up

The Rivets, the 18th team in the 23-year-old league, are set to kick off their opening season next month with a May 31 matchup against the Wisconsin Woodchucks.

“You’re going to see some of the best college talent in the game out there,” assistant general manager Bill Czaja told The Times recently.

“This is the ultimate baseball internship. Last year, you had one-sixth of the players selected (in the Major League Baseball entry-draft) who had come through the Northwoods League.”

Czaja said one of the biggest challenges the team faces is shedding some of the lingering feels fans have about the Aviators, the former Frontier League team.

“You have to take your fans’ concerns seriously at all times and you have to fulfill their expectations at all times,” he said. “You organize as well as you can and if you do it right, it works like a well-oiled machine from the very first day.”

The team has also announced a unique Cheap Trick bobblehead series, available for fans who purchase a five-game pack of tickets. That package sells for $60.

“We just want people to know that we’re here for the long haul and that we’re here to entertain,” Czaja said. “We want to be the place in town during the summer where people can bring out the kids and the whole family can have a good time for a good value.”

For more information or to order tickets visit rockfordrivets.com or call 815-240-4159.

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