|August 25, 2007 - Marion, Ill. - The Rockford RiverHawks looked to move closer to the Kalamazoo Kings for the Frontier League wild card playoff spot when they took on Southern Illinois on Saturday evening. Rockford had help before the game even began, when Florence took a double-header sweep at Kalamazoo. However, they were unable to take advantage of the opportunity, losing a 6-3 decision to the Southern Illinois Miners at Rent One Park.
After three scoreless innings, Rockford struck first in the top of the fourth inning. After Andrew Sweet grounded out to begin the inning, Jason James reached base by hitting a single to centerfield. The hit is James' 100th of the season, the 12th RiverHawks player to achieve that mark. After Brad Dutton hit a single that moved James to third, both James and Dutton attempted a double steal. Miners' catcher Bryant Perdomo's throw to second base sailed into centerfield, scoring James and moving Dutton to third.
In the fifth, Rockford scored again as Matt Hagen hit a soft line drive into center field that brought Matt Sauls across the plate. After retiring ten consecutive batters from the first through the fourth inning, Tanner Watson started out the Southern Illinois half of the fifth by giving up a lead-off double to Chris Hall. Then, with one out, Joey Metropolous tied the score with his sixth home run of the season. It didn't take the 'Hawks long to recapture to lead, when Justus Kimbrough drove Southern Illinois starter Nick Tisone from the game with an RBI double in the sixth inning.
The game took an interesting turn in the bottom of the sixth inning, as a couple of questionable calls by the first base umpire ended with RiverHawks manager J.D. Arndt being ejected. Ralph Santana led off the inning with an infield single, beating out Joe Anthonsen's throw to first. After Eric Suttle sent Santana over to second with a sacrifice bunt, Andre Marshall reached base when he was waved safe after umpire Don Novak said that Hagen's foot was off first base when he caught Anthonsen's throw. The other disputed play was an attempted double play where Hagen threw out Marshall at second base for a force out. Jono Brooks' relay throw to first where Tanner Watson was covering was on time, but again the first base umpire said that Watson's foot was off the bag. Ralph Santana scored on the play, and the ensuing dispute between Arndt and Novak caused the RiverHawks to be without their manager for the rest of the ballgame.
Southern Illinois took the lead for the first time in the bottom of the seventh, when Drew Moffitt led things off with a home run to left field. Then, in the eighth, Southern Illinois extended their lead on a Joey Metropolous two-run single that scored Jason Arrowood and Chris Hall. With one out in the top of the ninth, Matt Sauls reached base with a single, but Matt Hagen grounded into a double play to end the ballgame.
Tanner Watson (10-2) pitched 7 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs, including two home runs, losing for the first time since July 6th. Rick Hummel (3-1) earned the win in relief for the Miners, and Travis Hope finished the game, tallying his 13th save of the year.
The RiverHawks return home and to Central Division play as they host the Traverse City Beach Bums Sunday night at Road Ranger Stadium. It's another Feldco Family Night, where you can purchase four tickets, four hot dogs, and four sodas for $40 dollars. Kids are also invited to run the bases at the conclusion of the ballgame. Great seats are still available, just give the RiverHawks ticket office a call at 815-885-BALL.
The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league in its 15th season. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling the box office at (815) 885-2255. Most games are broadcast live on WNTA (1330 AM) and the internet. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.