Rivets stun Growlers in comeback win, split series

By Larry Larson

The Rivets scored in each of the final four innings to down the Growlers 7-5 in comeback fashion on Friday night at Homer Stryker Field in Kalamazoo. With the win, Rockford earns a series split in the 4-game, 3-day stretch. 

The Rivets improve their second half record to 5-7 and 20-27 overall. 

Southpaw Noah DeLuga (Fr, Minnesota) took the ball for Rockford and started strong, tossing three scoreless innings – including leaving the bases loaded in the 2nd inning. 

In the 4th inning, DeLuga ran into trouble, walking the bases loaded with no outs. This time, the Growlers came through, scoring on a Devin Burkes (Fr, Kentucky) bases loaded single to open a 1-0 lead. DeLuga would prevent further damage, though, retiring three consecutive batters to get the Rivets to the 5th. 

DeLuga started the 5th and was pulled after walking the first batter. Tanner Mink (R-Fr, South Florida) came on out of the bullpen and walked the first two batters he faced to load the bases. The Growlers came through with a bigger blow this time – an RBI double off the bat of David Coppedge (Fr, Virginia) to make the score 3-0. In the next at bat, Brett Barrera (Fr, Stanford) recorded a sacrifice fly to increase the lead to 4-0. 

Rockford would get on the board in the 6th, thanks to a 2-RBI single from Johannes Haakenson (Jr, Concordia-Wisconsin). The Growlers would get one of those runs back in the bottom half on a Jake Gelof (Fr, Virginia) RBI knock. 

Walks and hit by pitches cost the Rivets, as Kalamazoo managed just 3 hits through 6 innings – all of them being RBI hits. 

Trailing 5-1, Rockford’s comeback began in the 7th with a sac fly off the bat of Brian Fuentes (R-Fr, Indiana State). 

In the 8th, Rockford put runners on second and third via two walks and a throwing error by Gelof at 3rd base on a double-play attempt. Grant Magill (R-Fr, Indiana State) came through in the clutch, lining a single to left to score Tommy Benson (R-Fr, Triton College) and Haakenson to knot the game at 5. 

Magill moved to 2nd on a throw to the plate and eventually to 3rd on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there. 

Rivets manager JT Scara went directly to Tucker Shalley (Fr, Parkland College) in the 8th, and the hard throwing righty worked around a single to keep the Growlers scoreless. 

In the 9th, Fuentes came back from down 0-2 to draw a walk and was pinch run for by Greg Ziegler (So, Johnson County CC). Wade Elliott (So, Louisiana Tech) dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move him to second before the Growlers intentionally walked Jared Cushing (R-Fr, Xavier) to put the double play in order. That move turned out to cost them. 

In the next at bat, Benson rolled a tailor-made double play ball to the shortstop Luke Leto (HS Sr, LSU). Leto fielded the ball, hustled to second for the force out, but uncorked a wild throw to that got away from Luke Storm (Fr, Duke) at first. 

Ziegler busted it down the third base line to score from 2nd to put the Rivets in front, while Benson moved to 2nd base. Benson eventually reached third and scored on a passed ball to put Rockford ahead 7-5. 

In the bottom of the 9th, Shalley worked around a one out walk to seal the victory and send the Rivets home on a high note. 

Tomorrow, the Rivets return to Rivets Stadium to take on the first-place Kokomo Jackrabbits at 6:05.