Sauls’ single sends RiverHawks to playoffs
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September 3, 2007 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – Matt Sauls has never missed the playoffs since he joined the Rockford RiverHawks as a rookie in 2005. His game-winning single on Sunday ensured another postseason trip for his ballclub.

Sauls singled to center field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the RiverHawks a 2-1 comeback win over Kalamazoo in the nightcap of a doubleheader. The RiverHawks won the opener, 10-4. The sweep, in front of a standing-room crowd of 4,291 at Road Ranger Stadium, sends the RiverHawks to the Frontier League playoffs for the fourth year in a row.

The RiverHawks took three must-win games, two in walkoff fashion, after losing, 7-1, on Saturday. Facing elimination in all three games, Rockford started the winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Jason James’ bases-loaded walk in Saturday’s second game.

Rockford took the wild card with a final record of 52-43, 1½ games ahead of 51-45 Kalamazoo. The RiverHawks face Central Division champion Windy City in the first round of the playoffs. The ThunderBolts were 68-28, the best record in league history.

In Sunday’s opener, the RiverHawks nearly blew a five-run lead. They scored five unearned runs in the first four innings. Matt Hagen singled in a run in the first. In the second inning, Kalamazoo starter Dane DeValk (5-6) threw a run-scoring wild pitch and gave up a two-run homer to Jono Brooks.

Kyle Kmiecik hit a two-run homer to spark Kalamazoo’s four-run rally in the fifth inning. Josh Carter and Mike Russell each doubled in runs.

Rockford put the game away with five runs in the sixth inning. Sauls hit a two-run, ground-rule double to give the RiverHawks some breathing room.

Dane Towery (1-0) was awarded the win in relief because starter James Cramphin was lifted before he pitched five innings. Dave Dowling struck out three in two perfect innings of relief for his second save.

In the nightcap, Sauls made a diving catch of Jeff Grose’s line drive in the third inning with a runner at third base. A.J. Johnson scored on the sacrifice fly. Sauls led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and scored on Brandon Cohen’s bases-loaded single to right off Trent Lare.

In the bottom of the seventh, Brad Dutton led off with a bloop single to center field and advanced to second base on a sacrifice. With two outs, Lare (5-4) hit Joe Anthonsen with a pitch and was relieved by Mark Kelly. Sauls lined Kelly’s 2-0 pitch into center field.

Tanner Watson, pitching on two days’ rest, threw three hitless innings of relief and struck out five without a walk. Watson, who finished the season 11-3 with the win, broke Josh Tomsu’s three-year-old team record for most victories in a season.

The RiverHawks play the ThunderBolts at Crestwood at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday in Game 1 of a best-of-five series. Game 2 is 7:05 p.m. Wednesday. The RiverHawks host Game 3 at 7:05 p.m. Friday.

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.


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