RiverHawks beat Otters, 9-3, for first win at new stadium
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June 1, 2006 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – Joe Anthonsen produced the clutch hitting that has eluded the Rockford RiverHawks this season.

The rookie infielder doubled in three runs with two outs in the seventh inning to put the Rockford RiverHawks in front. They went on to beat the Evansville Otters, 9-3, for their first win in two tries at RiverHawks Stadium. Evansville won the opener on Wednesday 3-2. Until Anthonsen’s double, the RiverHawks were hitting just .188 with the bases loaded, and nine innings had ended with three RiverHawks aboard.

The seventh inning changed what looked to be a very similar game to the opener at RiverHawks Stadium, when Rockford did not get a hit over the last five innings. After Evansville scored a run in the first inning on a two-out infield single by cleanup hitter Matt Edwards, the RiverHawks responded with two in the bottom of the inning. Anthonsen started things off by reaching on an error by the Evansville second baseman, Frank Scott. Cody Brooks followed with a walk, and the pair pulled off a double steal. After a Rico Santana strikeout, rookie first baseman Bart Hunton drove them in with a two-run single.

That 2-1 lead held up until the fifth inning. Evansville responded with a double by their ninth place hitter, Josh Stewart, off Rockford starter Garrett Bauer. He stole third, and after a strikeout left two away in the inning, Scott hit a ground-rule double to right to get an RBI. Designated hitter Jeff Goldbach followed with a single to bring in Scott and the Otters reclaimed the lead at 3-2.

All this was taking place while Evansville starter Casey Abrams was in the midst of retiring 14 straight RiverHawks. After a leadoff single by Jake Bowen to start the second, it took until the seventh inning for another Rockford batter to reach base. Right fielder Nick Johnson did so by leading off with a single. After being sacrificed over by center fielder Matt Sauls, Abrams was chased from the game. Reliever Anthony Del Prete hit catcher Gooby Gerlits to put two on with one out. Pinch hitter Mayke Cabrera lined out, but Mike Bidwell walked to load the bases with two away. That’s when Anthonsen delivered his bases-clearing double to right-center. The 5-3 lead was one Rockford would not relinquish.

The RiverHawks padded the lead in the eigth inning with four runs on only one RBI. Hunton hit a one-out double, which was followed by an intentional walk to Johnson. Evansville made another pitching change, and things got interesting for reliever . After a foul ball popped out of the glove of right fielder Dale Mueller, Matt Sauls singled to center to load the bases. Gerlits then hit a bloop to left field that Vince Berry got a bad break on, and it fell in for a single and drove in a run. Beau Massey pinch hit, but didn’t have the chance to do any damage. A wild pitch, a passed ball, and another wild pitch scored all three runners while Massey was in the batter’s box. That put Rockford up 9-3 going into the ninth, which was more than enough for closer Mike Marksbury.

Marksbury worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out the first two hitters he faced. Along with Adam Kroft and Grant Payton, the Rockford bullpen retired all nine hitters they faced, giving what looked like a sequel a surprise twist. In all, the final 11 Otters went down in order, after the final 13 RiverHawks were retired in the series opener. Kroft got the win in relief to go to 2-0.

The rubber game of the series will be played on Friday at RiverHawks Stadium. Dane Towery (1-0, 1.59 ERA) will be opposed by Evansville starter Chris Pillsbury (0-0, 3.18 ERA).

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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