By Grant Montgomery
The Rockford Rivets were backed by a strong start by Hunter Keim as they defeated the visiting Battle Creek Bombers 8-5. Keim recorded the win on the evening for Rockford while Seth Tucker was on the losing end for Battle Creek.
Hunter Keim was on the hill to start for the Rivets the night after a tough loss. He was able to get Rockford back on track by tossing five innings without allowing a run. He pitched around a lot of traffic on the evening, but he did a good job limiting the damage. When asked about his start, he said, “Fastball command wasn’t that great, so I had to work on my slider. I’m not going to have my best stuff every time out, so I just had to battle and get through five scoreless innings.” Rivets manager, and Hunter Keim’s brother, Josh Keim was also high on praise for the right hander, saying, “He battled all night, kept his composure. That kid has grown a ton this summer.” His final line on the evening was 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 5 BB, and 3 K.
The offense was on full display in the contest as well. It was back to back night for the Rivets that they scored eight runs. It was a big 6th inning that really put the contest out of reach for the Bombers. After a leadoff home run by newcomer Alex Steinbach started the rally for Rockford. After this, a total of five more runs were scored in the inning with the biggest blow coming on a two RBI single from the nine-hole hitter Anthony Fumagalli. Josh Keim was pleased with the offense on the night, saying, “We just got back to hitting the way that we do. I felt like we were in control all night, and I think this group is starting to click a little bit.”
Josh Keim was also impressed by Zack Jones, Rockford’s first pitcher out of the bullpen to relieve the starter. Jones had recently moved to the bullpen, where he has been strong lately. “We moved him to the bullpen because we believed that would help our team down the stretch if we wanted a shot at the postseason. He is a guy that is going to go in and fill the strike zone up and give us what we need. He was phenomenal tonight” Keim said.
Offensive highlights came from Jake Vander Wal, Matt Higgins, and Alex Steinbach. The trio recorded five RBI in the game while having a great approach at the plate all night. They all drove runs in during the six run 6th for Rockford, including Alex Steinbach’s first home run of the season. Vander Wal and Higgins have been mainstays in the Rivets lineup all year, and the two have a combined for 66 RBI through 62 games on the year.
With the win, in addition to the loss by the Kalamazoo Growlers, the Rivets now are four games back of the final playoff spot in the Great Lakes East Division of the Northwoods League. Rockford will travel to Kalamazoo for two games to try and cut the deficit in half. When asked about the playoff hunt, Josh Keim simply said, “I like our chances.” If the Rivets can take care of business and sweep the Growlers on the road, they will be two games back with eight to play.
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.