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Kingfish Have Bullpen Rolling To Start Summer

The 5-3 start the Kenosha Kingfish have achieved over the first eight days of the season hasn’t been a breeze to accumulate. Those five wins have come by margins of just 2.4 runs on average over the opposition, including back-to-back one-run victories going into Wednesday’s series-opener against Battle Creek. When the games are close, every pitch becomes more vital the longer the games go on. That’s not a new concept, nor is the idea that a strong bullpen can be vital to a team’s success.
It’s no surprise, then, that the strength of this Kingfish team over the first week of the season just might be its bullpen.
“I think having a strong bullpen is huge,” left-hander Seth Rosenberg said. “It gives the team a lot of confidence. The starting pitcher knows that when it’s time to hand off the ball, the rest of the team’s gonna pick you up and keep you in the game.”
Rosenberg, a junior from Northern Kentucky, was the one delivered the best pitching performance, starting or relieving, that Kenosha has seen in the early days of 2017. Entering the game cold to take over for an injured George Faue in the third inning on June 3rd against Kalamazoo, Rosenberg fired five perfect innings, striking out five and earning the win in a 5-3 victory for the Kingfish.
“That was interesting, it’s probably the first time I’ve had to deal with (coming into the game cold),” Rosenberg said. “I’d worked with Coach (Jordan) Coffey, and he talked to me about my posture when I was throwing. After that, I was throwing a lot easier and with the same velocity.”
Rosenberg isn’t the only arm that’s delivered a spectacular performance out of the bullpen. In Monday’s 14-inning win over Lakeshore, Christian Bokich earned the win with four one-hit shutout frames, during which he punched out five and walked none.
The Kingfish have also gotten good mileage out of two different closers early in the season with righties Alex Manasa and Billy McKay each picking up a pair of saves. McKay, a freshman from Florida, has dominated hitters with a 1.03 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 8.2 IP, while Manasa, a freshman from Jackson Community College, has a 3.00 ERA in three innings of work with four strikeouts.
“I think we’re very deep,” Manasa said. “Everyone’s just getting more comfortable. I‘m getting used to pitching in front of big crowds. It was difficult for me the first game, I had to relax. The slider was working (Monday), so everything’s coming back.”
Whether or not the pitchers coming out of the pen are used to the big crowds of Historic Simmons Field, they’ve proven perfectly capable of living up to big moments. Over their last 32.1 innings of work, they’ve allowed just four earned runs – good for a stellar 1.11 ERA.
It shouldn’t be lost, meanwhile, that the rotation has been difficult to crack on their own. right-handers Logan Wiley and Quinn Snarskis and lefty Davis Schwab have started the season very well on the mound, and are a large part of the team holding a 3.05 ERA over its first eight games, the third-lowest in the Northwoods League South division. That’s no small thing, as the only two teams with better ERA’s – Battle Creek and Wisconsin Rapids – also happen to be the only teams ahead of them in the standings.
But as long as the team continues to play in close games, the bullpen will be an essential part of the Kingfish’s chase of a title.