Ziegler walk-off hero in seesaw battle with Kenosha
By: Larry Larson
Greg Ziegler (So, Missouri State) was the Rockford Rivets’ hero on Thursday night, winning the game on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 9th to boost Rockford to a 6-5 win over the Kenosha Kingfish.
The win improves the Rivets’ record to 4-6 in the 2021 campaign.
The Great Lakes East battle featured four lead changes in the final three innings of the contest.
Thanks to a dominant start by right hander Ross Thompson (R-Jr, Heidelberg), Rockford entered the 7th inning ahead 3-0. That lead dissipated quickly, as the Kingfish scored a run on a throwing error, and followed it up with a 2-RBI triple by Casey O’Laughlin (Jr, Azusa Pacific). Shortly after, a sacrifice fly by Luke Stephenson would put Kenosha ahead 4-3.
Rockford responded with clutch hitting in the bottom of the 8th inning. After Brody Harding (So, Illinois) started the inning with a single and moved up to second on a passed ball, Fighting Illini teammate Cam McDonald (R-So, Illinois) would tie the game with an RBI single.
After a single by Jared Cushing (R-Fr, Xavier) singled and Ziegler walked, Daniel Gutierrez (R-So, Roosevelt) came through with a bases-loaded single to give Rockford a 6-5 lead entering the 9th.
That lead wouldn’t last long, though, as Dustin Crenshaw started the top of the 9th with a triple off of Bradley Deboutte (Jr, Wright State). Tucker Shalley (Fr, Illinois) would come in to face the next batter, Luke Stephenson (R-Fr, Xavier), who drove a ball through Cushing’s legs at third base to knot the game at 5.
Shalley would escape the rest of the inning unscathed, setting up the Rivets for 9th inning heroics.
Wade Elliot (So, Louisiana Tech) started the inning with a single up the middle, and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Harding. Kenosha would then intentionally walk McDonald to put the double play in order, and unintentionally walked Cushing to load the bags.
Zeigler, who stepped to the plate 0-3 with a walk, sent a fly ball into right, which was caught by O’Laughlin. Elliot tagged, scampered home and slid under a high throw to finish off the 6-5 victory.
Thompson took the tough-luck no decision after tossing 6 innings of solid work, walking and striking out one while letting up 3 earned runs. Shalley picked up the victory, while Ethan Peters (Jr, Loras College) is docked with the loss for surrendering the 9th inning run.
The Rivets and Kingfish will battle again tomorrow night at Simmonds Field in Kenosha, with first pitch set for 6:35pm.