By Cory Berberian
LOVES PARK, Ill. — Dropping winnable games is a storyline that has haunted the Rivets all season. Rockford has been finding numerous ways to win, but also to lose, and they found themselves on the short end Sunday in a 6-5 defeat to Kalamazoo.
Rockford returned to Rivets Stadium following a disappointing two-game series at Green Bay. Booyah pitcher Jack Mahoney no-hit the Rivets in game one, and the Rivets’ bats fell short in a 7-3 loss in game two.
Rivets’ starting pitcher Jordan Nelson (Dubuque) battled 6 innings through a Growlers offense that entered Sunday’s contest hitting .355 over their previous five games.
The offense’s woes continued through seven innings of play at home. The Rivets put across just one run and left seven on base in those first seven frames. However, they put plenty of balls in play, and the bats came through trailing 5-1 in the 8th.
Matt Higgins (Bellarmine) drew a one-out walk, followed by Jake Vander Wal (Long Beach State) and Josh Dudden (Creighton) knocking singles to the outfield. Matt Higgins scored on the Dudden single, and Branden Comia (Illinois) pulled the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a double to drive home Vander Wal and Dudden.
With the deficit trimmed to just one and two men out, Cam McDonald (Illinois) pinch hit and sent a broken-bat chopper to the left side off the infield. Growlers’ shortstop Austin Knight mishandled the throw, which escaped first baseman Clay Owens, allowing Comia to score from second base to tie the game at 5-5.
The Rivets’ new life ultimately proved to be short-lived. With two out in the top of the 9th inning and Tanner Propst (Delta State) on the mound, Owens blooped a fly ball to shallow left-center field. Both Andrew Wilhite (Minnesota) and Blake Burrows (Kansas State) scampered in, but neither took charge, and the ball dropped harmlessly in the outfield to score Kalamazoo’s Gabe Rivera.
Three consecutive Rockford outs later, the Rivets suffered their third consecutive loss of the season. The three-game skid is tied for the longest this season, the only other occurrence coming in the first week of June.
Nathan Schneiderman (Dubuque) is the probable starter for the Rivets on Monday night as the team looks to return to the win column. First pitch against the Growlers is set for 6:35 P.M. at Rivets Stadium.
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.