Wright strikes out 11, but RiverHawks lose, 5-3
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August 14, 2009 - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks didn’t take advantage of their pitching ace, but the Florence Freedom did at the end.

Kyle Wright opened Friday’s start with seven straight strikeouts and maintained a tie game from the third inning until the eighth. Florence got to him for three runs in the eighth, however, for a 5-3 win. The Freedom cobbled together the winning rally from a run-scoring balk, a sacrifice squeeze bunt and a two-out single.

The RiverHawks have lost six of their last eight games and are five games out of the last Frontier League playoff spot. River City won, 8-3, at Traverse City.

Wright (above, file) struck out 10 of the first 18 batters. He matched a career high with 11 strikeouts and walked just two, but suffered his second consecutive loss after a 10-decision winning streak. Wright (10-3) gave up four runs on seven hits over eight innings.

Florence never trailed. The Freedom broke a scoreless tie with three straight two-out hits from Matt Stiffler, Erold Andrus and Ryan Basham in the third inning. In the bottom of the inning, Jason James led off with a double and later scored on a balk by starter Allan Donato. Donato, in his professional debut, held the RiverHawks to a run on two hits over 5 1/3 innings.

The Freedom opened the eighth with another three-single sequence, this time by Zach Goldberg, Stiffler and Andrus to load the bases. Pinch-runner Brad Hough scored the go-ahead run when Wright was called for a balk. Stiffler scored on a squeeze by Tim Grogan and Justin Pickett singled in Andrus to give the Freedom a 4-1 lead.

The RiverHawks rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth on doubles by James, Robert Sabates and Brandon Cohen, but they left the tying run at second base to end the inning and Andrus singled in an insurance run for Florence with two outs in the top of the ninth.

Demetrius Banks (5-4) gave up the runs in the eighth, but won in relief. John Miller pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his ninth save.

The series continues at 6:05 p.m. Saturday. The RiverHawks will hold their annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Jersey Auction. This year, the RiverHawks’ one-night-only alternate tops are inspired by the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks. The jerseys will be auctioned following the game to benefit the MDA. The Blackhawks’ Jack Skille, a former Rockford IceHog, will be on hand and will be available for autographs.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, a 12-team independent professional baseball league in its 17th season. Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit the RiverHawks online at www.rockfordriverhawks.com. Most games are broadcast live on ESPN 1380, and on the team website.


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