The Windy City ThunderBolts got a strong start from Shane Zegarac and some timely hitting as they downed the Rockford RiverHawks 5-2, splitting their four game series to open the season.
For the third time in four games in the series, Rockford got on the board first with a run in the third inning. Windy City countered in the bottom of the frame as with one out, Gilberto Mejia singled. He then stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by Joe Dempsey. Mejia came in to score on a groundout by Guillermo Martinez.
The ThunderBolts took the lead in the fourth inning as J. T. Restko started off the inning with a double. Following a walk by Bryan Cook, Tyler Farrar grounded into a double play, during which, Restko moved to third. Tony Gonzalez came up and singled through the left side to score Restko and give Windy City a 2-1 advantage.
Windy City added to the lead in the sixth inning with an RBI groundout from J. T. Restko to make it a 3-1 game. Rockford came back with a run in the top of the seventh on an RBI double from Mike Goetz to cut the Bolts lead to a run.
Rockford started a rally in the eighth when the RiverHawks put runners on the corners with nobody out. On a stolen base attempt by pinch-runner Mike Kalina, Jason James crept down the third base line. As Kalina got into a rundown, James broke for the plate. Gilberto Mejia saw James heading plateward and fired the ball home; Zach Aakhus provided a perfect block of the plate, tagging James for the first out of the inning. Brandon Garner then got the final two outs of the inning to preserve the one-run lead.
The ThunderBolts broke things open in the bottom of the eighth when Mike Sullivan led off with a double. Damian Walcott came in to pinch-run and moved to third on a ground out by Restko. Nate Hall came up as a pinch hitter for Bryan Cook and worked a walk. Tyler Farrar then bunted the ball up the first base line. Robbie Knapp came home with the ball. Joe Dempsey was unable to hold on to the throw, enabling Walcott to score and pushing the Bolts edge to 4-2. With runner on first and second, Tony Gonzalez grounded a ball to short. Brooks made the throw to first in time, but Nate Hall never stopped around third, catching the RiverHawks napping, scoring to make it 5-2.
The runs came in support of Shane Zegarac (1-0) who picked up the win in his professional debut. Zegarac went 5.1 innings allowing four hits and one run, striking out six. Brandon Garner worked two scoreless innings for his first save of the season. Rob Neigebauer (0-1) took the loss for Rockford.
The ThunderBolts will take Monday off before starting a three game set against the Lake Erie Crushers on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday are school days with special 11:05 a.m. start times. Ross Stout (0-0, 12.27) will start for Windy City against Brett Lysander (0-0, 13.50) for the Crushers. For information or tickets, call 708-489-BALL stop by the Standard Bank Stadium ticket office or go to the team’s website at www.wcthunderbolts.com
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