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Rivets squander early lead, fall to Kokomo

By: Larry Larson

Despite jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the 1st inning, the Rockford Rivets couldn’t hold off the Kokomo Jackrabbits on Wednesday night, falling 13-7 at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.

The Rivets kicked off the game with six hits in the first, leading to six runs. Wade Elliot (So, Louisiana Tech), Brody Harding (So, Illinois), Greg Ziegler (So, Missouri State) and Peter Fusek (Fr, Milwaukee Area Tech) all drove in runs to open up the early advantage.

Kokomo immediately responded in the bottom of the 1st, pushing across 3 runs while sending eight batters to the plate. The inning taxed Rivets starter James Raffauf (So, Voulnteer State Community College) 35 pitches, which prevented him from returning for a second inning of work due to Northwoods League pitching rules.

Hruz Wagner (Fr, Milwaukee Area Tech) replaced Raffauf, but faced a similar fate. The righty allowed four runs to score in the 2nd inning, allowing Kokomo to pull ahead, 7-6. Wagner also went beyond the single-inning pitch limit, keeping him at one inning of work.

In the third, Elijah Sanchez (Jr, Northern Illinois) came on and surrendered an RBI double, but bounced back to keep Kokomo at bay for the next two frames.

Down 8-6, Rockford would make things closer in the 6th. Harding started the inning with a single and followed the act by stealing both 2nd and 3rd base. Max Malley (So, Evansville) brought him home with an RBI ground out, narrowing the deficit to just one.

That’s as close as the game would get, though, as the ‘Rabbits would come back with four runs in the bottom half of the 6th off of Fusek, who came into the game on the mound after starting at the DH. The big blow in the inning came on a 3-RBI triple by Raymond Hillbrich (So, Purdue Northwest).

Kokomo scratched across another run in the 8th, while Rockford failed to threaten Ryan Beck (Sr, IU-Kokomo) in the final three innings on their way to the 13-7 defeat.

‘Rabbits starter Kyle Wade (R-So, Purdue) picked up the victory after bouncing back from the rocky start to go five innings. Wagner would take the loss, while Beck recorded a save for pitching the final three innings.

The Rivets, now 3-6, will return to Rockford to take on Kenosha on Thursday at 6:05 pm.

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The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The Northwoods League is the proven leader in the development of elite college baseball players. Having completed its’ 27th season, the Northwoods 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 250 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time All-Star and 2016 Roberto Clemente Award winner Curtis Granderson, three-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series Champion Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and World Series Champion Chris Sale (BOS). As well as 2019 Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby Champion Pete Alonso (NYM) and MLB Gold Glove finalist and 2019 Second Team All-MLB shortstop Marcus Semien (TOR). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. 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.