BATTLE CREEK, MI., – Battle Creek had a 4-1 lead heading into the ninth and their closer Davis Burgin on the mound. After two quick outs, two walks and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. An error on the second baseman scored two, and then a double into center field where Cristian Tejeda couldn’t find the ball off the bat gave Rockford the 5-4 lead and eventually the win.
The Rivets scored first way back in the first inning. Philip Matulia walked, moved to second on a single and third on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI ground out by Brody Harding.
Battle Creek would strike back fast though after going down 1-0. Roman Kuntz singled to lead off the bottom of the second and Nick Powell was hit by a pitch. A sac bunt put both of them in scoring position and Brady Held singled them both home to give the Bombers a 2-1 lead.
The lead would be extended with one run in the third and the fourth for Battle Creek. In the third, Tejeda would come in to score on an RBI sacrifice fly by Kuntz on a ball caught in the Rivets bullpen. In the fourth, Brian Zapp would reach on an E6 and Held would single him home for his third RBI of the day.
Both primary relief pitchers were dealing. For Battle Creek, Lucas Bixby pitched five scoreless innings after starter Gunner Morris gave up the one run through three innings pitched. Bixby would only allow four hits and a walk through those five innings and was in line for the victory. Tucker Shalley started for Rockford and was hit around allowing three runs in three innings. Payton Hutchings came in relief and ended up going the rest of the way. Five hits and one unearned run allowed for Hutchings as he struck out ten batters.
As previously stated, that 4-1 lead wouldn’t last. Burgin and the Bombers were one out away when Matulia laced a one-hop ground ball to TJ McCormick. It was a tough play that hit the palm of his glove and bounced high overtop of him and into the outfield. It scored two runs and had the tying runner at third. Matulia stole second, and Kevin Bushnell drove a ball to center field. It looked like a fly ball that was going to hang up for Tejeda, but he lost in the lights, and it landed about 40 feet behind him. Both Shemar Page and Matulia scored, and Rockford had the 5-4 lead.
Ray Hilbrich came in to pinch hit and singled with one out. As the tying runner at first base, Hutchings would strike out the next two batters and get the victory.
Burgin gets the loss, and the Bombers go 7-17 in the second half. Battle Creek and Rockford do it again on Sunday for the final time this season. The Bombers can tie up the season series at six all with a victory. First pitch is set for 1:35 PM.
By Josh Baker