By Grant Montgomery
Andrew Wilhite played hero in this contest, as his walk off RBI single sealed the win for the Rockford Rivets over the Kokomo Jackrabbits. Pitchers of record in the game were Anthony Holubecki with the win for Rockford and Joey Haass with the loss for Kokomo. Their records now both sit at an even 1-1 on the season.
Jimmy Burnette was on the hill to start for Rockford, as he pitched a game that kept the Rivets in good position to come out on top. The left-hander out of the University of Illinois pitched 6.0 innings on the night, to go along with one earned run while working around nine total base runners. Manager Josh Keim spoke about Burnette after the game, saying, “I think he’s starting to settle in. Tonight we wanted to get his pitch count up and just let him go, and he was able to keep us in the game.” Burnette is now 1-1 on the year to go along with a 2.46 ERA, which ranks 12th in the Northwoods League.
The Rivets offense looked strong in the early going, as they scored two runs in the 3rd inning. Perhaps the best thing about the inning, was the fact that both runs came with two outs. Runs were driven in by Matt Higgins and Easton Murrell, who have both been hot at the dish lately.
After giving up the lead in the 8th inning, the Rivets chances of coming out on top looked slim. It wasn’t until the 9th innings that the offense came to life again. After a strikeout to begin the inning, Easton Murrell got things going with a single to left field, which was followed by the tying run which came from a hit from Josh Dudden. After the red hot Tom Josten reached on an error by the shortstop, and Nick Juaire was given the intentional walk, the real drama took place.
At this point, Andrew Wilhite, out of the University of Minnesota, stepped in with the bases loaded. He had a great at bat which resulted in the second walk of win for the Rivets this season. Wilhite has been in the middle of the action for both walk-off wins this season. This time it was a single out to center field that drove in Josh Dudden. When asked about the scenario he was put in, Wilhite said, “I was just trying to have a quality at-bat, get something to the outfield, and make sure to get the run home.” Keim also had praise for the third baseman on the night, saying, “He just needed something to fall, it was a great piece of hitting. We made a mid game adjustment, and he was able to make that adjustment and come up big for us.” It was a great moment for the Stillman Valley native.
The Rivets will close out the first half Tuesday against the same Kokomo club at 6:35. Though they are out of the playoff hunt with Traverse City staying hot, Rockford will still try and build off an exhilarating win.
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.