By Grant Montgomery
The Rockford Rivets topped the visiting Kenosha Kingfish on Friday night by a score of 6-4. Pitchers of record in this one were Trevin Eubanks (1-0) and Keith Kutzler (1-4).
Early on, pitching was the story in this one. Jarret Olson, who was making his first start for the Rivets was outstanding to begin the game. He recorded five strikeouts over 4.2 innings pitched while only allowing one earned run. Manager Josh Keim was high on praise for the left hander out of Michigan State by saying, “I thought he was really good. He’s got good off-speed stuff and he really keeps hitters off balance. He does a great job giving a spark to our team.” Kenosha’s starting pitcher also opened the game hot while not allowing any runs through the first four innings. But the Kingfish’s right hander ended up with the loss on the evening.
One bright spot that was present for Rockford was their bullpen. After Olson’s exit, the bullpen went on to lock things down for the most part before running into trouble in the ninth inning. A combination of Trevin Eubanks, Nathan Schneiderman, and Ryan Riddle were able to focus in and capture the victory. When asked about the success the bullpen had on Friday night, Keim said, “We needed that to be on display tonight, because their names are going to get called, especially this weekend, and they need to be ready.” While making his first appearance with Rockford, Ryan Riddle closed the game out, but not without making things interesting. After an error opened the door for Kenosha, he went on to allow three runs before ending the game with a strikeout.
The offense for Rockford seemed to get back on track during this contest. After scoring only two runs in the twin bill on Thursday in Kenosha, the Rivets put up six runs on six hits while drawing nine walks. Jake Vander Wal by ripped a two run double down the right field line in the fifth inning that opened the scoring for Rockford. He went on to finish with three total RBI on the night. Another great performance came from catcher Mason Minzey. He extended the lead by bringing in two runs on an RBI single in the sixth inning. He was outstanding on the night behind the dish, as Josh Keim said that “He just joined us this week, but his complete game behind the plate was great. I thought he controlled out pitchers and called a great game.”
Center fielder Blake Burrows was back in action on Friday night atop the Rivets batting order. He was on base three times in the game while stealing a base in the first inning. “We put him back up there just to get things going. Our offense has been down the last couple games and getting him back up there provided a spark to the other guys.” Keim said.
Rockford looks to make this a win streak as they take on the Kenosha Kingfish again tomorrow night at Rivets Stadium at 6:35. One point of emphasis Keim also made during his statement was to “take things one day at a time.” He believes this is a good mindset for his team to have as they try and build on this win and remain in contention in the Great Lakes East division during the first half of the season.
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.