Wednesday, May 30, 2012

RiverHawks take series opener, 10-5 over CornBelters

05/29/2012 9:46 PM -
LOVES PARK, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks took the series opener from the Normal CornBelters on Tuesday night, winning 10-5.
The CornBelters jumped out to an early 4-0 advantage on RiverHawks’ starter Kasey Kiker, a former first-round draft pick, but Rockford scored five runs in the third inning and put together a big four-run seventh,  highlighted by a two-run, go-ahead triple by Javier Herrera to pull ahead of Normal.

“With the hitters we have, we are never going to be out of the game,“ manager Rich Austin said. “We have the capability to come back at any time.”
In the five-run third, the RiverHawks sent 11 batters to the plate as Michael Hur hit a solo homer, his second of the season, Herrera had a two-run single, and Matt Greener added a sacrifice fly to center field to put the home team ahead 5-4. 
Kiker lasted just three innings, as he gave way to Jordan Stern (1-0), who gave up only one run on three hits with three strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings of work to earn the win. 
“He (Stern) was throwing strikes, was in the zone, and got ahead and was able to use his splitfinger,” Austin said. “He did a great job for us.”
With the game tied at 5-5 in the seventh inning, the RiverHawks were able to get to CornBelters’ reliever Austin Bailey (0-1), who gave up four runs, three earned, in two innings of work.  Herrera’s two-run triple to right gave the RiverHawks the 7-5 advantage, and they would score two more in the seventh and one in the eighth on Brandon Anderson’s RBI single to center field. Anderson finished the night 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. Herrera finished the game 2-for-5 with four RBI and ran his hit streak to six games.

The RiverHawks put together long innings at the plate in the third, seventh, and eighth innings, but they were retired in order in every other inning.
Mike Lee pitched a scoreless ninth inning while striking out three batters in a non-save situation. Lee has fanned 10 batters in 4 2/3 innings pitched this season.

The RiverHawks return to action Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. at RiverHawks Stadium against the Normal CornBelters for game two of a three-game series. 
The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league in its 20th season. Games are broadcast on NTA-FM (100.5). Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

RiverHawks drop slugfest to Lake Erie, 12-10

05/27/2012 6:57 PM - LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Rockford Riverhawks were unable to pick up a victory in the series finale against the Lake Erie Crushers on Sunday afternoon, falling 12-10 in a slugfest at RiverHawks Stadium .

The two teams combined for 33 hits on the afternoon, but Rogelio Noris’ two-run single in the Crushers’ five-run sixth inning proved to the be the difference.

The RiverHawks started the scoring in the second inning as Matt Greener had a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Devin Shepherd. Elvin Millan Jr. , who finished the day 2-for-4 with two RBI, put the RiverHawks ahead 2-0 with a two-out RBI single.

However, the Crushers would respond in the fourth inning with two runs to nod the score at 2-2. The RiverHawks then responded with three runs in the bottom half, including an RBI double by Javier Herrera, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI doubles.

Michael Hur followed with a two-run home run off Crushers’ starting pitcher Trevor Longfellow, his first of the season, to put the RiverHawks up 5-2, but the Crushers would answer with four runs in the top of the fifth, including a three-run homer to center field by Andrew Davis off of RiverHawks’ starting pitcher Kevin Patterson. Davis would finish 3-for-6 with five RBI on the day.

With the Crushers up 6-5, the RiverHawks would bat around and score four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take a 9-6 lead, including Jet Butler’s leadoff home run, his second homer in as many nights. The Crushers would respond with five runs in the top of the sixth inning to take an 11-9 lead, including a pair of two-run singles from Davis and Norris off relievers Drew Rucinski (1-1) and Garrett Granitz.

The RiverHawks would score once in the sixth inning on Herrera’s third RBI double of the game, but Crushers’ relievers Ben Klafczynski (1-0), who earned the win by giving up one run in 2 1/3 innings of relief, and Jonathon Kountis, who earned his third save of the season, would prevent the RiverHawks from a comeback.

Lake Erie’s Robby Kuzdale would add a solo homer to left field off reliever Theron Minium to give the Crushers a 12-10 lead.

The game-time temperature at the stadium was 98 degrees and the time of the game was 3 hours and 38 minutes, the RiverHawks’ longest of the season.

The RiverHawks are off tomorrow for Memorial Day, but they remain at home starting on Tuesday night as they play host to the Normal CornBelters. First pitch Tuesday night is set for 7:05 p.m., with kids eating free that night.

The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league in its 20th season. Games are broadcast on NTA-FM (100.5). Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit

RiverHawks end skid, win 8-1 over Lake Erie

05/26/2012 8:39 PM - LOVES PARK, Ill. – The Rockford RiverHawks pounded out 11 hits, including their first four home runs of the season, to pick up a 8-1 victory over the Lake Erie Crushers on Saturday evening at RiverHawks Stadium and end their losing streak at five games.

Rockford got on the board in the second inning as right fielder Javier Herrera hit a two-out, two-run home run through the wind to left field to put the RiverHawks up 2-0. The RiverHawks would add another run in the third inning on an RBI double by Daniel Gonzalez off of opposing starter Sam Strickland (0-1), who was making his Crushers’ season debut.

RiverHawks’ starting pitcher Nick Sarianides (1-1) earned the win on the mound, pitching six innings, giving up six hits while walking three and striking out seven batters. He worked his way out of trouble in the first inning by getting Crushers’ designated hitter Russell Moldenhauer to ground into a double play to end the inning. In the fourth inning, Sarianides escaped a bases loaded two-out jam by striking out Crushers’ right fielder Robby Kuzdale.

The RiverHawks tacked on a run in the fifth inning when third baseman Matt Greener led off the inning with a home run to left field off Strickland. The RiverHawks then added four runs in the sixth inning as Jet Butler led off the bottom of the inning with a solo shot to left field off of Crushers’ reliever Joshua

Later in the inning, Greener hit his second homer of the game, a three-run blast to left field off Rickards to put the RiverHawks on top 8-0. Greener finished the night 2-for-4 with two homers and four RBI. Herrera was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI.

The Crushers would score a run on a fielder’s choice by shortstop Brandon Decker in the eighth inning off of RiverHawks’ reliever Joey Gradney, but relievers Rob Currie and Mike Lee would combine for 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball to preserve the victory for the RiverHawks.

The RiverHawks play host to the Crushers on Sunday afternoon, with a 3:05 p.m. first pitch set at RiverHawks Stadium.
The RiverHawks are members of the Frontier League, an independent professional baseball league in its 20th season. Games are broadcast on NTA-FM (100.5) Advertising and ticket information is available by calling (815) 885-2255. Fans can also visit

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bulls' Season Over, Rose out 8-12 Months Following Surgery

Last Thursday, the Chicago Bulls ended their season, bowing out in Game 6 to the Sixers by the score of 79-78.  The end of the game was horrifying for Bulls fans. I watched the end at a clubhouse of a golf course, and seeing the Bulls come all the way back to take the lead after being down 12 in the third quarter was awesome.

The Bulls even led by three with under 30 seconds left, but Spencer Hawes had a layup to cut it to one.  In the ensuing fiasco, C.J. Watson had the ball in his hands and was almost fouled, but the refs let the action go on long enough to see him dish it off to Omer Asik, who was fouled and went on to miss both free throws. He was one of the few who hustled back and ended up committing the foul to send Andre Iguodala to the line, who calmly sank both free throws to secure the win following a last chance prayer from beyond half court from Watson.

While most Bulls fans and even members of the media said it was "inevitable", I was not one in that camp.  I truly believed the Bulls could win even against the biggest odds because I felt the 76ers were not that great of a team.  They are solid, but they can't shoot and good defense in the last two games showed that they were susceptible to losing, even with the Bulls missing Rose and Noah.  It was a horrible feeling to see the Bulls go down like this, especially in a game that they definitely could have won.  I felt like they would have won a Game 7 at home if they had the chance.  It was a kick in the groin to be as a Bulls fan to see it end like this, but nothing can be changed now.

The future for this Bulls team looks a little murky with Rose out 8-12 months as he recovers from his ACL surgery.  According to Dr. Brian Cole today, the surgery went smoothly and as planned, but Rose's expected recovery time will be at the minimum eight months.  Thinking optimistically, he could be back sometime in January, but if progress in recovery stalls out, Rose could miss the entire 2012-2013 basketball season, leaving the Bulls in a difficult position.  You must also factor in that Luol Deng will have surgery and likely miss a good chunk of the start of next year.  This Bulls team is facing a lot of uncertainty, and things also are difficult because they don't have the luxury to go and get guys like Steve Nash and Lamar Odom to fill voids.  They simply do not have the money to do that.  Nash and Odom are well-respected and deserve more money, so it's unlikely they would even consider coming to Chicago.  They may be able to get some players for cheap, but their real impact may not be felt.  Things are very uncertain for this team because they were built to win now.  The surgeries are a setback, but I trust that Coach Thibs will balance minutes more and get players like Jimmy Butler more involved as Rose and Deng rehab their injuries.

So, what do you think?  Should the Bulls pursue any big names?  What should they do this offseason?  When do you believe Rose and Deng will return?  Feel free to chime in and give me your opinion.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bulls Win Game 5, Keep Series Alive

The Bulls pulled out a 77-69 win over the visiting 76ers on Tuesday night, keeping the series alive.  The Bulls still trail the best-of-seven series 3-2, but the game last night gave Bulls fans some hope and something to be happy about after the funeral procession of the last ten days. 

It started in Game 1 with reigning MVP Derrick Rose's torn ACL.  From there, things got worse as the Bulls got absolutely worked over by Philly in the second half of Game 2 in a 109-92 loss.  Games 3 and 4 brought more frustration as sloppy play and winnable games slipped through the Bulls' hands, especially Game 4 that saw the Bulls blow a big fourth quarter lead and go down 3-1 in the series.  But Tuesday night saw the Madhouse on Madison rocking, as Luol Deng finally showed up, Carlos Boozer played well, and Taj Gibson brought the toughness on defense the Bulls desperately needed.  I gave Deng and Boozer credit, but I truly admired the way Gibson played.  8 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks are decent, but his impact on the game was felt more than the box score would even suggest.  Deng and Boozer combined for 43 points, but Gibson's defensive presence was outstanding, and the 76ers only shot 32.1% from the field.  It was refreshing to see the defense come to play last night. 

Looking ahead to tomorrow, Philly wants to close this, and their crowd will be surely behind them.  However, the Bulls have to believe they can win Game 6 and send it back to Chicago for a seventh game.  Philly is the eighth seed for a reason.  They have more flaws than the other teams in the Eastern Conference, especially shooting the basketball.  The Bulls have to make them settle for jumpers and limit the transition points and easy buckets in order to win this one.  It may sound obvious, but they have to do this.  Taj Gibson has to be big again, and I think the Bulls will need some kind of scrum or spark to fire them up like last night.

I am being honest in saying that I believe I was one of the few who had hope that the Bulls could still win this series coming into Game 5.  Even Chicago beat reporters and radio announcers were saying this team was done.  They may be trying to be realistic, but I'm an optimistic guy who sees the 50-16 record this season and knows this team has too much pride and care for each other to simply roll over in Game 6.  They could get blown out and I could be wrong, but I'd rather be right if they end up winning this series than caring about what others thought was inevitable.  I will be into the game tomorrow and really waiting to see how the Chicago Bulls respond with their backs to the wall again. 

Let's go Bulls!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Seau Dead at Age 43

In news that rocked the sports world yesterday, Junior Seau has died of an apparent self-inflicted gun wound.  Police were called to the scene of his Oceanside, California home yesterday, where his girlfriend found him unconscious with a gun at his side.  Seau was only 43 years old, and his family members and closest friends were devastated by the news.  
Seau had a recent history of concerns and he survived a 100-foot plunge down a seaside cliff after he fell asleep behind the wheel.  Seau was arrested for investigation of domestic violence with his girlfriend he shared a home with at the time.

Seau was elected to a Chargers  record 12 straight Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times.  The news came as devastation to the Charger family, who has lost many former players at very young ages.
He was a great player on the field, and from all indications I pick up on, was a kind and generous man off the field.  His mom was absolutely devastated by this news as she cried loudly and asked why.  Seau sent texts to his ex-wife and kids the previously day that read "I love you".  No suicide note was left.

As a kid, I grew up watching this guy and admired how he played on the field.  I also could see that he seemed like a good person and one with character.  He may have been battling some demons over the years, and this is just devastating news to see him go like this.  I'll always remember him in Charger blue and also as a member of the New England Patriots.  He was an extremely talented player, but play on the field doesn't tell the whole story.  The countless stories friends, family, and other people whose lives he touched are those that matter.  It is so sad to see the heartbreak that many of his closest family members and friends feel.  

My heart goes out to his family, and my prayers are with them. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chicago Bears 2012 Draft Thoughts

The NFL Draft has passed for the year, so let's take a look at what the Bears got and what I thought of some of the picks.

First, let's start with their first round pick, Shea McClellin.  Out of Boise State, I didn't know much about him until analysts started talking about him and breaking down his draft stock.  Apparently he has a very high motor and a knack to be around the ball.  I still question this pick because the Bears have a pretty strong core of linebackers.  I know Briggs and Urlacher are not ageless and their time will come to an end in the next five years or so, but the Bears had more pressing needs than for a guy they are not sure as to how exactly they would use.  The Bears also could have gone for Stanford guard David DeCastro with that first pick to help plug up the offensive line and give Jay Cutler much needed time to throw the football.  This would have been the safer pick, but Phil Emery took a bit of a flier with McClellin, and only time will tell if he made a good call.

Moving on, the Bears traded up to get South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery in the second round.  Jeffery is big and athletic despite lacking some burst off the line and ability to get separation.  I watched him play at South Carolina and liked what I saw.  Him and Marshall are two huge targets for Cutler and will give the Bears some legit receivers instead of undersized guys like Devin Hester.  Jeffery has the potential to start right away and make a big impact in his rookie season.

For the rest of the draft, the Bears went on to address issues in the secondary and took Temple tight end Evan Rodriguez in hopes that he could stretch the field.  Martz's systems had such a limited role for tight ends that it will be interesting to see how they will use Rodriguez in a new system.  The guys the Bears got in the secondary (Hardin, Frey, McCoy) all come with risk and not necessarily starting potential yet, but in time they can possibly be impact players.  I am still a little surprised there was no attention paid to the offensive or defensive lines.  On the offensive side, that group on paper right now is just not very good.  On the defensive side of the ball, they need someone who can take some pressure off Peppers and create a strong pass rush.  How they plan to address those issues with the draft now over is a mystery to most Bears fans.  They must have faith that the group now can get it done.

Let me know your thoughts on how the Bears drafted and what you liked/disliked about it.  Feel free to chime in.