Rivets Split Day-Night Doubleheader with Battle Jacks
ROCKFORD, IL — A long day of baseball Wednesday at Lonnie’s Field at Rivets Stadium ended in a split of a two-game, day-night doubleheader between the Rockford Rivets and Battle Creek Battle Jacks.
The first game of the day started just after 11:00 a.m. The visiting Battle Jacks started out of the gates quickly, just as they did in Tuesday night’s matchup between the teams, with a run in the top of the second inning. Rivets starter Kent Evans Jr. (Senior – Rockford Univ.) allowed base runners in each of the four innings he pitched, but was able to limit the damage to the lone run with timely strikeouts. The right-hander finished the day after 3 1/3 innings, allowing the one, unearned, run on just two hits, walking three and striking out a pair. Evans exited with runners on first and second in the top of the fourth, but righty Noah Ruen (Freshman – Tyler JC) was able to strand both runners in relief, going an inning and 2/3 scoreless overall.
However, the floodgates eventually opened for Battle Creek. The Battle Jacks plated 5 runs in the sixth, a pair of runs in the seventh, and one more in the eighth to take a commanding 9-0 lead. Rivets pitchers surrendered 11 walks in the contest, but were not aided by 3 errors made behind them in the field.
Offensively, the Rivets struggled to get anything going against Battle Jacks starter Brett Sanchez, (Senior – Bellhaven) who threw 6 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, surrendering just 5 hits, striking out 5 and allowing 0 walks. The Battle Creek bullpen matched this consistency until the ninth inning. Singles from Ben Brantley (Junior – Louisiana Tech) and Dylan Robertson (Junior – Missouri State), along with a hit-by-pitch on Luke Sefcik (Redshirt Freshman – Central Michigan) loaded the bases for Colton Klein (Junior – Carthage College), who hit an opposite field Grand Slam to get Rockford on the board in a big way, and make the score 9-4. The Rivets would add two more in the frame on a Brody Harding (Junior – Illinois) RBI groundout and a Matthew Mebane (Freshman – South Georgia State College) RBI single. The comeback was ultimately not enough, with the Rivets falling 9-6, but it provided some momentum for Rockford to build off of heading into game two.
The night cap saw Rivets left hander Kyle Seebach (Senior – Northern Illinois) make his third start of the Northwoods League season. Seebach had not allowed a run in his first two starts of the summer, and maintained that form early on in Wednesday night’s outing. The southpaw shut down the hot Battle Jack bats, which had scored 22 combined runs in the first two games of the series, going four scoreless and striking out six to start his outing.
The Rivets’ bats picked up right where they left off in the ninth inning of game one. After scoring a run in the first on a Brantley RBI single, Rockford exploded for 7 runs in the second inning, highlighted by a Cam McDonald (Redshirt Junior- Illinois) 2-run home run. Outfielders Johannes Haakenson (Senior – Concordia University of Wisconsin) and Thaxton Berch (Freshman – Louisiana Tech) each registered an RBI as well, while three Rivets scored via a wild pitch or passed ball. This was not the end for the Rivets offense, who would add 3 runs in the third and sixth innings respectively, taking on an additional run in the seventh. McDonald ended the night with 4 RBI, while Berch tallied 3 RBI of his own. Mebane also extended his Northwoods League lead with his 21st RBI of the season.
Unfortunately for Rockford, Seebach’s shutout streak to start the season ended at 17 2/3 innings. In the fifth, Battle Creek got on the board with two runs (one earned) crossing the plate with two outs. Still, Seebach was able to limit the damage and go five strong innings. Right hander David Mata (Redshirt Junior – Southeastern) took the Rivets the rest of the way, pitching two effective innings of relief.
The game was ultimately called in the seventh inning, as thunderstorms rolled into the area. The Rivets took game two by a final score of 15-5.
With the split of the doubleheader, Rockford’s record now sits at 8-9. The Rivets are 2 1/2 games back of the first place Battle Jacks in the Great Lakes East, and will have a chance to split the four-game set with Battle Creek in Thursday’s series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. at Rivets Stadium.