RiverHawks get past Thunderbolts in opener
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May 24, 2006 - CRESTWOOD, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks had the Windy City Thunderbolts on the schedule to open the season; they didn’t realize that was a weather forecast as well.

Rain delayed the start of the scheduled 11:35 a.m. game by 46 minutes, and a combination of rain and lightning stopped play for nearly an hour in the middle of the fifth inning. But the ‘Hawks persevered and ace Derek Roper shut out Windy City 4-0.

Roper went six innings giving up just three hits with no walks, striking out seven. That included coming out for two more innings once play resumed after the rain delay.

Right fielder Nick Johnson and center fielder Matt Sauls were the offensive stars for Rockford. Johnson went two for three with a pair of singles, a walk, and two stolen bases. He also scored the game’s first run. Sauls provided some insurance with a two-out solo home run in the fourth inning that stretched the lead to 3-0.

Opposing starter John Martinez, who set a Frontier League record with 16 wins last year with Chillicothe, walked four straight batters in the second inning to force in Johnson, giving catcher Gooby Gerlits an RBI. The ‘Hawks and rookie designated hitter Bart Hunton used the hit and run to get their second run in the third inning, as Hunton’s single brought in fellow rookie Joe Anthonsen from second base. After Sauls’ homer in the fourth, right fielder Rico Santana scored the final run on a wild pitch by Martinez.

Once Roper exited, a trio of Rockford relievers kept the score right where it was. Adam Kroft, Dave Dowling, and Mike Marksbury gave up just one hit, finishing up the four-hit shutout.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 10-team independent professional baseball league that will play its 14th season in 2006. Advertising, ticket and suite information is available by calling the box office at (815) 964-2255. All games are broadcast live on WRHL-FM, 102.3 – the Hub and online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com.
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