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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.

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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.