By Grant Montgomery
It was a great day for the Rivets, as they were victorious in both games of the double header against Kenosha. After the sweep, Rockford is now .500 on the season with an 8-8 mark.
Perhaps this sweep of the Kingfish is exactly what was needed to get the Rivets going. After being swept in their last series by the Kokomo Jackrabbits, things were beginning to look grim for Rockford. Manager Josh Keim describes the discrepancy in performance by saying, “We were ready to play, it was a huge difference in two days of what the team looks like.”
The Rivets took game one by a score of 14-3, showing again that the offense is capable of exploding at any point. 8 of Rockford’s 9 hitters recorded a base hit in the contest, finishing with 11 hits total. When asked about the depth of the lineup, Keim went on to say, “We can play these guys wherever, whenever, and we can put them anywhere in the lineup and they’re going to produce.”
Rockford produced up and down the lineup in Monday’s game one, but Josh Dudden, Aaron Mann, and Andrew Wilhite were outstanding on the day. All of which recording 2 hits and driving in at least one run. Maybe the most impressive thing about the offensive showing was the fact that this production came from the bottom half of the lineup, proving that the Rivets pack firepower up and down their order.
In game two of the double header, Rockford won by a score of 5-0 coming from great pitching by Brad Littleton, and offensive production from stand out players Jeff Heinrich, Matt Higgins, and Jake Vander Wal.
Heinrich, Higgins, and Vander Wal were the offensive bright spots in this game, as they combined to get on base a total of 7 times. Higgins has been on fire lately, and that did not stop in this contest. He was 3-5 with a run scored and a run driven in. When asked about these 3 players, that are consistently in the heart of the Rivets order, skipper Josh Keim had nothing but praise. “I believe that those are three of the best players in this league right there. When you throw them in one lineup, it’s tough to pitch to those guys when they’re hitting back to back to back.” Keim went on to say.
Though the hitters were hot, the pitching by Brad Littleton was even hotter. Littleton threw a complete game shutout in the contest while firing 96 pitches, 70 of which were in the strike zone. There is more to the story than just the shutout, as he carried a no-hitter into the 9th inning before allowing a leadoff single to Mike Jarvis which ended up being the only hit allowed of his outing. The right hander was absolutely outstanding on the night, as he finished with 9 punch outs while his first pitch strike rate was around 70 percent. Josh Keim said that it was “one of the best pitching performances” he had seen at any level of baseball. This performance lowers Littleton’s ERA to 1.83 on the young season, which ranks 8th among pitchers in the Northwoods League with at least 15 innings pitched.
The Rivets look to continue their success in the final two games of the series against Kenosha. The two teams complete their series on June 12th and 13th in Kenosha and Rockford respectfully.
The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 25-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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, over 200 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 (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.rockfordrivets.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Rivets as your favorite team.