With playoffs looming, Rafters blow out Rivets

Neal Tyrell makes a defensive play for Rockford. With the playoffs approaching, the Rivets fell 12-2 to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters on Thursday night. Photo courtesy of Doug Timmermann of JK Richards Photography.

LOVES PARK, IL – Rockford has lost in its fair share of blowouts this season, but with the season coming to a close, this one seemed to hurt more.

With a playoff spot on the line, the Rivets (38-30, 21-13) could not get the victory on Thursday night, as they fell to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters (50-19, 23-10) by a final 12-2.

Sloppy play on the part of the Rafters allowed the Rivets to score first in the game. In the 1st inning, Bren Spillane singled and eventually reached third after Brian Klein (Texas Tech) walked and each of them stole a bag. The throw to third base from Rafters catcher Jared Nelson (UC-Santa Barbara) went over the head of the third baseman, allowing Spillane to score and the Rivets to take a 1-0 lead.

Alex Bacevicius (Robert Morris) was nearly flawless through three innings, but the Rafters got to him in the 4th. Bryson Stott (UNLV) reached base on a throwing error, and the subsequent batters really took advantage. Ryan Stekl (Canisius) doubled home Stott to tie the game, and Stekl himself eventually scored off an RBI single from Alex Holderbach (Eastern Kentucky), quickly giving the Rafters a 2-1 lead. Before the first out of the inning was recorded, Scott Kapers (Valparaiso) launched a three-run home run over the left field fence, and things did not improve from there. Bacevicius left the game but Josh Petersen (Ohio) gave up his fair share of runs. Stott’s second time up in the inning was a grand slam to the right field porch. Another run would score before the inning ended. In total, the Rafters sent 14 men to the plate and scored 10 runs to take a 10-1 lead.

Rockford showed life on offense in the bottom half of the 4th, as Anthony Forte (Richmond) led off with a double and Kian O’Brien (Madison College) followed with a single. Logan Michaels (Madison College) hit a sacrifice fly to score Forte, but Rockford could not manage any other base runners and still trailed 10-2.

The Rafters added another run of support in the top of the 5th. Michael Ruffolo (Rockhurst) walked with one out, and scored on an RBI single off the bat of Charlie McConnell (Northeastern). Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) added a solo home run in the 8th, giving Wisconsin Rapids a 12-2 lead. Rockford got a pair of runners on base in the bottom of the 9th, but they could not score and fell by double digits for the seventh time this season.

The loss certainly hurts Rockford, who is battling with Madison, Lakeshore, and Kenosha for a playoff spot. It may come down to the wire as to whether or not the Rivets make their first-ever playoff appearance in the Northwoods League.

Tomorrow is Rockford’s last home game of the regular season. It’s Fan Appreciation Night, and as a thank you to our wonderful fans in Rockford anyone can purchase a $15 ticket with all-you-can-eat food and fountain soda for the game. There will also be postgame fireworks that you will not want to miss! Gates open at 5:35 p.m. for the 6:35 p.m. first pitch. Call 815.240.4159 to inquire about buying your tickets today! Keep an eye out for the Rivets in the postseason – there is a chance the Rivets will make the playoffs and even host a playoff game at Rivets Stadium!

The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League, which will play its 24th season of summer collegiate baseball in 2017. The Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, 180 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals), two-time World Champion Ben Zobrist (Chicago Cubs) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox), Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers), Curtis Granderson (New York Mets) and Lucas Duda (Mets). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website,