The Battle Creek Bombers went the distance, and then some, with the Rockford Rivets, but the Rivets outlasted Battle Creek in a 3-1 victory in 10 innings.
Battle Creek jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as Jack Merrifield had an RBI single to score Kolby Johnson, but from there both starters settled in to a pitchers’ duel. Rockford starter Zack Jones set down 14 consecutive Bombers batters over the first half of the game to keep the Rivets in the game, but Battle Creek starter Ty Shoaff was equal to the task. The left-hander from Notre Dame College delivered his longest outing of the season, spinning 6.2 innings and striking out a season-high nine batters.
Shoaff navigated the first six innings without allowing a run but ran into trouble in the seventh. Andrew Wilhite reached on a hit-by-pitch, but Shoaff retired Mason Minzey and Branden Comia, although Wilhite reached second base. Blake Burrows responded with a single to score Wilhite, and Shoaff’s day was done. The left-hander allowed one run on four hits while walking three batters.
Battle Creek had chances in the eighth and ninth innings to take the lead against Rockford. In the eighth, shortstop Kelby Weyler walked, and John Malcom singled, bringing Merrifield up with an opportunity for a multi-RBI game. Relief pitcher Nate Schneiderman struck Merrifield out, though, ending the threat. Battle Creek threatened again in the ninth against Rockford reliever Trevin Eubanks. Roy Thurman walked and stole second base, but catcher Rhett McCall grounded out to end regulation.
Jordan Rhodes, who came in to relieve Shoaff, remained in the game to begin the tenth. Due to Northwoods League rules, each half-inning in extra innings begins with a runner on second base. Burrows started the inning in scoring position, and advanced to third when Rhett McCall tried to pick off the left fielder but threw the ball past Weyler into center field. Josh Dudden grounded out to second base, and the Bombers intentionally walked the next two batters. Jake Vanderwal, who leads the Rivets in RBI, delivered for Rockford with a 2-RBI double to right field. Ping-Chun Ho came in and held the Rivets from scoring further, but the damage was done.
In the bottom of the tenth inning, reliever Tanner Propst set down Battle Creek in order, including strikeouts of Michael Morrissette and Kolby Johnson. Battle Creek falls to 12-16 with the loss, while Rockford rises back above .500 with a 15-14 record. Battle Creek is back in action on Thursday on the road against the Traverse City Pit Spitters.
The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Currently in its’ 26th season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, over 200 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.northwoodsleague.com or download the Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.