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Rivets comeback falls a run short in afternoon pitchers’ duel

By Larry Larson

The Rivets’ bats took seven innings to wake up after an 11:05 ET time start in Kalamazoo, but the Growlers’ bats were enough to prevent a comeback, as Rockford fell 5-4 in game one of a doubleheader at Homer Stryker Field on Thursday. The loss drops Rockford’s record to 4-6 in the second half. 

The game started with four scoreless innings, as Growlers’ starter Brayden Forsyth (So, Mississippi) and Rivets starter Payton Hutchings (Fr, Illinois) dueled. 

Hutchings loaded the bases with no outs to begin his outing in the 1st, but averted the threat by recording 3 straight outs. Forsyth escaped a similar bases-loaded, 1-out jam in the top of the 2nd with back-to-back strikeouts. 

The scoring started in the bottom of the 5th, as Devin Burkes (Fr, Kentucky) doubled and advanced to third on a Dominic Pitelli (Fr, Miami) bunt hit. TJ Williams (Fr, Notre Dame) followed the small ball act with a bunt of his own, scoring Burkes on a safety squeeze to open a 1-0 Kalamazoo lead. 

In the bottom of the 6th, Hutchings walked Brooks Coetzee (Jr, Notre Dame) and allowed an RBI single to Luke Storm (Fr, Duke) in his final batter of the outing. 

The Growlers made it 3-0 with a sac fly in the 7th, before Rockford scored its first run in the 8th thanks to an RBI knock from Jared Cushing (R-Fr, Xavier). However, the Rivets stranded runners on 2nd and 3rd to end the frame. 

In the bottom of the 8th, the deficit would swell again, as AJ Golembiewski (R-So, Illinois-Springfield) allowed a 2-run homer to Henry Gargus (So, Stanford) to make it 5-1. 

The homer would prove to be costly in the 9th, as the Rivets put two runners on base ahead of Greg Ziegler (So, Missouri State) with one out. Ziegler belted a line drive to right field that cleared the 3-foot wall for a 3-run homer to trim the lead back to 5-4. 

Phil Matulia (Jr, Louisiana Tech) followed the homer with a walk, but Tommy Benson (R-Fr, Triton) grounded into a game-ending double play. 

The Rivets will have another shot at the Growlers tonight at 6:35 ET. Ryan Green (Jr, Concordia-Wisconsin) will start on the mound for Rockford.