ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford Rivets (9-8) came back from a 5-0 deficit to beat the Kenosha Kingfish (5-12) on Thursday night by a final score of 8-6 at Rivets Stadium in Rockford.
Kingfish third baseman Nate Thomas (Saint Joseph’s) was removed from the game in the second inning after getting hit by a pitch. Thomas has started every game this season and leads the team with a .370 average, a .523 on base percentage, a .565 slugging percentage, two home runs, 12 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Charles Middleton (Sierra) gave Kenosha a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a line drive to left field that scored Ethan Owens (Drury).
The RBI was Middleton’s ninth this season, good for second on the team.
Ryan Knernschield (Eastern Illinois) plated Joey Scaffidi (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) in the fourth inning. Then Drew Dyer (Chicago State) knocked in RJ Pearson (Oral Roberts) to give the Kingfish a 3-0 lead.
Knernschield doubled home Scaffidi for the second consecutive inning in the top of the fifth. The two-bagger also scored Mike Jarvis (San Diego State) to put the Kingfish ahead 5-0.
Knernschield was one of three Kingfish with two hits and had three RBI on the evening.
Rockford started mounting its comeback in the bottom of the fifth inning. Andrew Wilhite (Minnesota) knocked in Cam McDonald (Illinois) on a double. Wilhite came around to score on a Branden Comia (Illinois) base hit. Nick Juaire (Texas Christian) eventually scored on an error to cut the Rivet deficit to two at 5-3.
Kingfish starting pitcher Kyle Gendron (Winona State) entered the fifth having given up no runs on fewer than 50 pitches. He finished with a final line of five innings pitched and two earned runs allowed on five hits and one walk.
Zach Nogalski (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) drove in Ethan Owens (Drury) on a ground rule double to get a run back and make the score 6-3 in the top of the sixth inning.
McDonald’s first hit in a Rivets uniform scored Jeff Heinrich (South Carolina) in the bottom of the sixth. Then Wilhite singled McDonald home to make the score 6-5 in favor of the Kingfish.
The Rivets broke through in the seventh inning and tied the game on a Matt Higgins (Bellarmine) RBI groundout to second base. Mitchell Buban (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Knernschield teamed up to preserve the tie for the time being, cutting down Tom Josten (Central Florida) at the plate. But Nick Figus (Illinois Wesleyan) doubled down the right field line to score Heinrich and put Rockford ahead for the first time at 7-6.
Josh Dudden (Creighton) gave the Rivets some wiggle room with his fourth hit of the night, a single back up the middle which allowed Juaire to race home and give the Rivets a two-run edge at 8-6.
Dudden went 4-for-5 with four singles, a run and an RBI on Thursday.
All nine Rivets reached base in the comeback win.
Joe Dittmar (Illinois-Springfield) came on to earn a save with a clean ninth inning to lock down the 8-6 win for Rockford..
Nate Schneiderman (Dubuque) collected his first win of the season for Rockford, while Tanner Fallon (Loras) fell to 2-1 after giving up his first runs in 10 2/3 innings on Thursday.
The Kingfish will take on the Kokomo Jackrabbits on Friday night at Simmons Field at 7:05 p.m. CT.