08/11/2012 8:48 PM - JOLIET, Ill. – The RiverHawks wasted the first 10-strikeout start by a Rockford pitcher in three years in a 2-1 loss to the Joliet Slammers on Saturday at Silver Cross Field.
Tommy Mendoza and two Joliet relievers combined on a five-hitter as the Slammers handed Drew Rucinski his first loss as a starter.
Rucinski (6-2) had five wins and six no-decisions in his first 11 starts since he was moved to the rotation in June. Rucinski struck out 10 over 7 2/3 innings. He gave up nine hits and walked two. Rucinski, who threw 75 of 116 pitches for strikes and struck out the last two batters he faced, struck out the final two batters he faced. He’s the first RiverHawk with double-digit strikeouts since Kyle Wright struck out 11 Florence batters on Aug. 14, 2009.
Mendoza (4-5) snapped a nine-start winless streak. He scattered a run on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. Mendoza struck out four and walked two. Jet Butler doubled home Matt Greener from first base with two outs in the fourth inning for Rockford’s only run.
Joliet tied the game in the bottom of the fourth. David Christensen singled with one out, stole second and third bases and scored on a Kyle Maunus groundout. In the sixth, Abel Nieves led off with a double and the Slammers took the lead on back-to-back singles to left field by Maunus and David Fox.
Geoff Brown relieved Mendoza with the bases empty and two outs in the eighth inning. He walked Ted Obregon and gave up a single to Jimmy Parque, but picked Obregon off second base. Joliet closer Amalio Diaz got the final two outs of the game and picked up his 19th save.
Joliet has won seven of its last eight games. Since a midseason stretch in which the RiverHawks won 14 of 21, they have lost 14 of 21.
The series finale is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Sunday.
The RiverHawks’ next home game is at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14, when they host Florence. Kids eat free on Tuesday nights with paid admission.
The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league in its 20th season. Games are broadcast on NTA-FM (100.5) Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit www.rockfordriverhawks.com.