Chinooks Strikeout 18 Times, Fall to Rivets 5-2
Rockford, IL — 18 strikeouts and two crucial errors. Those are the only stats necessary in describing the Lakeshore Chinooks 5-2 loss in Rockford Saturday night.
Everyone in the lineup struck out at least once. DJ Lee, Connor Kimple and Connor Christman each struck out three times. Even Web Charles, who received only one at-bat in pitch hit duty, was set down via the strikeout.
While that part of their game was out of character—through 11 games, they’d only been strikeout victims 91 times, good enough for 12th best in the league—what’s starting to become a trend is a lack of hits.
In Green Bay on Thursday, they could only scrap together four hits in a 6-1 loss to the Bullfrogs. And in Battle Creek this Tuesday, they luckily escaped C.O. Brown Stadium with a 2-1 win after collecting just three hits.
Over their last three road games, they’ve totaled just 10 hits and a 1-2 record.
But none of this should discredit the effort Rockford’s pitching staff put forward tonight. The Rivets Jackson Bronke was untouchable through six strong innings, allowing just one earned run, 2 hits and striking out 12. The run came from a Jake Thompson RBI single that just squirted past the glove of Bronke on the mound and found it’s way into shallow centerfield.
But the Chinooks shouldn’t have been surprised by Bronke, they saw him just six days ago at Kapco Park. Lost in the Chinooks walk-off win was another solid outing from the righty. He put together five innings with one earned run, two hits and six punch outs. But this time, his bullpen didn’t let him down.
Jimmy Burnette, a lefty with a nasty hook, and Nolan Gazouski, a six-foot, seven-inch righty combined for just one earned run over the final three innings to shut the door.
Despite those two imposing arms, Lakeshore’s offense never surrendered. In the eighth inning, thanks to four walks from Burnette, they plated one run and loaded the bases before Gazouski came in and notched a strikeout of Connor Christman to stymie the rally.
To the Chinooks credit, whereas the lack of hits has been troublesome, there’s been no lack of base on balls. They came into the night with 60 walks, second-most in the league behind Kalamazoo, and tied for second in hit by pitches with 17. They consistently find ways on base, even if the hits aren’t always falling.
On the mound, Lakeshore didn’t get the performance they’d hoped from Konnor Ash. He lasted just three innings, allowing 2 runs and 2 walks.
But more than anything, errors are what really cost the Chinooks.
Sebastian Holte-Mancera, who’d been consistent at third base so far this season, only making one error, committed two crucial errors that allowed three runs to score in the late innings.
In the sixth, it was a ball that should’ve kept Parker Bates at second after a leadoff double, but instead skipped into the outfield and allowed him to score.
Then, in Rockford’s three-run seventh, it was a ball that could’ve been a double play, or at least gotten the lead runner at second, that again, skipped into the outfield and set runners up on first and second. Holte-Mancera slammed his glove into the dirt.
Despite the mishaps, Joe Gahm, making his debut with the team, was one pitch away from getting out of the jam. But a two strike single from Justin Walker plated two and upped the lead even further.
Tomorrow, the Chinooks will look to bounce back with a home tilt against the Fond du Lac Dock Spider. First pitch it at 5:05. Jacob Lindeman will get his first start of the season after appearing three times in relief.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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, more than 190 former 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 (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.