MADISON, Wis. –– This one was an old-fashioned “Pitcher’s Duel” from the start, and the Rivets got the better end of it Wednesday night at Warner Park.
Anthony Dahl (Arkansas) started for the Rivets, while Matt Horkey (UNC-Charlotte) got the ball for the Mallards, and the two traded zeros on the scoreboard through four innings. In the top of the fifth, Bren Spillane (Illinois) drove in Jack Wassel (Minnesota) on a single to left field to give the Rivets a 1-0 lead, which ended up as the game’s only run.
Dahl cruised through seven innings, allowing just three hits with 12 strikeouts and no walks. The right-hander ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth though. The first three Mallards hitters bunted to start the inning—the first two for hits down the third base line and the third a sacrifice—that forced the Rivets to bring the infield in with one out. But Dahl battled to get a weak groundout and a strikeout to end the inning, stranding runners at second and third to preserve the 1-0 lead.
Dahl finished the night with 13 strikeouts and no walks, while only allowing five hits. Jon Laird (Illinois-Springfield) came on for the ninth inning in relief of Dahl and retired the only three hitters he faced to get the save, ending the game with a strikeout.
For the Mallards, Horkey, Matt McCarty (Louisville) and JT Baksha (Western Illinois) combined for nine innings of one-run ball and six strikeouts, but couldn’t get any run support. The Rivets and Mallards combined for 12 hits, but neither team could manufacture runs.
John Rave (Illinois State) reached base three times on two singles and a walk, while Spillane collected two singles of his own and the only RBI of the game. Seven Mallards starters struck out at least once and six of them struck out at least twice.
The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League, which will play its 24th season of summer collegiate baseball in 2017. 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, 160 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals), two-time World Champion Ben Zobrist (Chicago Cubs) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (Boston Red Sox), Jordan Zimmermann (Detroit Tigers), Curtis Granderson (New York Mets) and Lucas Duda (Mets). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website, NorthwoodsLeague.com.