The Battle Creek Bombers escaped a jam in the bottom of the ninth inning with the winning run on base to beat the Rockford Rivets 9-8 in Loves Park, Illinois.
After falling to the Kalamazoo Growlers 8-3 on Sunday, the Bombers got on the board first in the second. Michael Morrissette highlighted the frame with a 2-run single to give him 20 RBI on the season, and the Bombers ended the inning with three runs to take the lead.
Rockford responded well against Battle Creek starter Sawyer Allen, who was making his Bombers debut. One run apiece in the second, third, and fourth innings tied things back up, as Battle Creek put runners on first and second base in three consecutive innings without scoring.
The Bombers broke back through in the sixth inning, though. Caleb Balgaard delivered an RBI double, Jorge Gutierrez added a two-RBI double, and the Bombers put up four in the inning to lead it 7-3. The base hit from Balgaard marked the 18th consecutive game from Balgaard to start the season in which he reached base.
Battle Creek extended their lead in the seventh inning, as Balgaard delivered another RBI with a single to center field to score Trace Peterson, and John Malcom followed with a run-scoring single of his own. Rockford wouldn’t go away quietly, though, as they put up two runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh inning to run the score to 9-5.
The next three half-innings went by scoreless, setting up a bottom of the ninth in which Rockford needed four runs to tie it. Kevin Smith, also making his Battle Creek debut, returned to the bottom of the ninth after retiring the Rivets in order in the eighth.
Three of the first Rivets to bat reached, including a single from third baseman Alex Steinbach to draw the deficit to 9-6. Jake VanderWal was caught stealing trying to steal third base, but the Rivets continued to battle against Smith. Anthony Fumagalli, who was making his Rockford debut, hit a bases-loaded single to score two runs and chase Smith from the game.
Beaux Bonvillain came into the game to close the contest out and pick up his sixth save of the season with the tying run on third base and the winning run on first. Rockford manager Josh Keim sent Michael Zavoli to the plate to pinch-hit for Ben Rosengard, and Bonvillain set Zavoli down on strikes to finish the game. The Rivets had an opportunity to move to four games out of a playoff spot with the Kalamazoo Growlers’ loss on Tuesday, but the Bombers spoiled the Rivets’ hopes. Battle Creek and Rockford meet again on Wednesday night at 6:35 Central Time to close the season series between the two clubs.
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.