By Ashley Birkeness
Rockford, IL – After a two-hour rain delay for the second day in a row, the rain couldn’t stop the Rockford Rivets (1-3) as Khalil Walker hit a walk-off bunt to lift the Rivets to their first win of the season on Thursday against the Kenosha Kingfish (2-2).
Once again, the Rivets found rhythm in the first inning as they took a 2-0 lead in the opening frame. With two outs, Aj Henkle earned a walk and in the next at-bat was advanced to third due to a Matt Mebane single to center field. Henkle was brought in to give the Rivets their first run when Carson Roberts doubled to left field and two at-bats later, Mebane scored on a wild pitch.
Ethan Storm, the starting pitcher for the Rivets went 5.1 innings allowing four runs on five hits. Storm had eight strikeouts and no walks.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning when the Kingfish reached the board on two singles to tie the game at two apiece.
Kendall Lyons got the start on the mound for the Kingfish pitching two innings giving up two runs on two hits. Lyons had one strikeout and two walks.
In the top of the sixth, the Kingfish scored two more runs to take their first lead of the game. Tucker Zdunich led off the inning by being hit by a pitch and advanced into scoring position on a Nathan Fink double to right field. Mason Morris extended the Kingfish lead on a 2-RBI single to left field to take a 4-2 lead.
The Rivets answered right back, tying the game when Roberts hit a single to left field bringing home Henkle. Demarco brought in another run welcoming Kenosha’s new pitcher with a 5-3 sacrifice ground out to bring Mebane in to score.
In the top of the eighth inning, Michael Morse came in to pitch for the Rivets, sitting down the Kingfish in order. Morse pitched 1.2 innings allowing no runs on two hits.
Threatening to take the lead in the top of the ninth, Kenosha was able to get two runners on board, but a 4-6 fielder’s choice ended the inning leaving the runners stranded.
Looking for their first win of the season, the Rivets secured back-to-back walks to get two runners aboard in the bottom of the ninth. With one out, Bradley White advanced to third on a wild pitch, just 90 feet away from securing the winning run. As Walker stepped up to the plate he squared to bunt, putting the ball down hard sending the Kingfish pitcher diving on the ground while White ran home to give the Rivets the 5-4 win.
The Rivets are back at home on Friday as they host the Battle Creek Battle Jacks at 6:35 p.m.