After the Rivets touched up Fond du Lac for six runs in the 1st inning on Sunday night, it appeared Rockford may cruise to a victory. That was far from the case, but the Rivets used clutch pitching down the stretch to down the Dock Spiders 6-5 in Fond du Lac.
The victory brings Rockford’s record to 15-20 and snaps a seven game road losing streak.
Dock Spiders starter Jared Bellissimo (R-Fr, Rutgers) started the ball game by opening a 0-2 count on Rivets leadoff man Josue Urdeneta (R-Fr, Indiana State), but the lefty would throw four straight balls to lose him and put the leadoff man aboard.
It was a sign of things to come, as Phil Matulia (Jr, Louisiana Tech) followed with a base knock. After Tommy Benson (R-Fr, Triton College) struck out, Daniel Cantu (R-Fr, South Florida) walked to load the bases.
Wade Elliott (So, Louisiana Tech) came through with a line drive down the left field line to bring in 2 runs and open the scoring. Tyeler Hawkins (R-Fr, Louisville) followed with a 2-RBI single of his own to double the score, 4-0.
Bellissimo recorded the second out, but then walked Brody Harding (So, Illinois) to bring Grant Magill (R-Fr, Indiana State) to the plate. Magill sent a hopper to shortstop, which looked like it could end the inning, but Jackson Loftin (So, Oral Roberts) booted the ball to load the bases.
Urdeneta then stepped to the plate and drove in a 2-RBI single to extend the lead to 6-0.
That would be the final run scoring play of the game for Rockford. As it turned out, it would be just enough.
Rivets starter Ben Vitas (Fr, Central Michigan) turned in a solid start, going 6.2 innings, allowing 3 earned runs.
In the 7th, Vitas was pulled after allowing a 2-run homer to Trey Lafleur (R-So, Ole Miss) which cut the lead in half, but Tyler Horvath (R-So, Illinois-Springfield) got the final out of the frame.
In the bottom of the 8th, the plot would thicken. Cade Turner (Fr, Illinois-Springfield) started the inning by allowing two hits and a fielder’s choice – a broken bat tapper back to the mound that allowed a run to score from third to cut the lead to 6-4. Then, JT Scara brought Elijah Sanchez (Jr, Northern Illinois). Sanchez walked his only batter, and Scara brought in closer Tucker Shalley (Fr, Illinois) with the bases loaded for the five out save.
Shalley clutched up, striking out the first batter he faced and then induced an inning-ending fly out.
After Rockford stranded two insurance runs on base in the top of the 9th, Shalley allowed a leadoff single to Chandler Simpson (R-Fr, UAB) who made it all the way to third on an error by Matulia in right field. Shalley then walked Victor Scott (R-Fr, West Virginia) to put the tying run on first.
In the next at-bat, Scott took off for second but was hosed by Magill to record the first out of the inning. Shalley then retired the next two batters in order – one of which via a fly out, which allowed Simpson to score from 3rd – to slam the door.
Ben Vitas pitched up the victory, improving his record to 2-1, while Shalley nailed down his 3rd save of the summer.
Rockford and Fond du Lac will wrap up the first half of the season tomorrow at 6:35 at Herr-Baker field.