By Larry Larson
The Rivets’ pitching staff struggled to contain the Battle Creek Bombers on Monday night and the lineup couldn’t manufacture a big enough rally, as Rockford dropped its third straight game, 11-7.
The loss brings the Rivets’ record to 13-16, with 7 games remaining in the first half.
For the third straight game, Rockford scored in the 1st inning and took a 1-0 lead on a Sacrifice fly by Jared Cushing (R-Fr, Xavier).
The Bombers would respond by scoring a run in the 2nd inning and then 2 runs in the 3rd off Rivets’ starter Ben Vitas (Fr, Central Michigan) in the righty’s first start of the season.
The Rivets scored again in the 4th inning on an RBI single by Brody Harding (So, Illinois) to trim Battle Creek’s lead to 3-2. The Bombers got that run back the next half inning, as Vitas surrendered two hits and a sac fly, increasing the deficit to 4-2.
After Rockford went scoreless in the bottom of the 5th, a heavy downpour rolled over Rivets Stadium, leading to a 53 minute rain delay.
When play resumed for the 6th inning, it rained runs.
First, Battle Creek scored three times off of Elijah Sanchez (Jr, Northern Illinois), ending the right-hander’s 5-appearance scoreless streak. The rally pushed the Bombers’ advantage to 7-2.
The Rivets got all those runs back in the bottom of the 6th and then some, scoring 4 times. First, Brian Fuentes (R-Fr, Indiana State) scored on a balk by Nolan Lamere (R-So, Clarke). Harding then flied to center field to bring in Max Malley (So, Evansville).
With two outs, Tyeler Hawkins (R-Fr, Louisville) popped a fly ball on the infield, but it was dropped by Battle Creek third baseman Ed Johnson (So, Tennessee Tech) to extend the inning. Rockford would make them pay for the error, scoring two more times on back to back RBI doubles by Phil Matulia (Jr, Louisiana Tech) and Daniel Cantu (R-Fr, South Florida), cutting the Bombers lead to 7-6.
Battle Creek would open the game up in the closing stages, though, tacking on two runs in the 8th and 9th – all charged to Bradley Deboutte (R-So, Wright State), who entered the outing with a 0.77 ERA.
Vitas would be charged with the loss, allowing 4 earned runs in five innings, while Bombers starter Issac Van Dyke gets the win.
Rockford and Battle Creek will play the second game of the four-game set tomorrow night at 6:05 at Rivets Stadium.