ThunderBolts gain split in doubleheader with Rockford
By Steve Millar For Sun-Ties Media June 29, 2014 10:48PM
Updated: August 1, 2014 6:17AM
June is awfully soon to classify a game as a “must-win,” but after the Windy City ThunderBolts dropped the opening game of Sunday’s doubleheader, that’s exactly how the nightcap felt.
“Oh, yeah, we had to win it,” Windy City’s Evan Button said. “We feel that way about every game now. We’re in last place. We’re not worried as much about that as just playing good baseball. We know we’re capable of being a good team.”
Button provided a key two-run single and Jon Mestas drove in three runs as Windy City salvaged one victory in the three-game set with the Rockford Aviators, winning 7-4 in front of 1,607 fans at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
Rockford (18-19) defeated the T-Bolts (15-23) by a 6-4 count in the opener, which began Saturday night and was completed Sunday. Windy City still hasn’t been swept in a doubleheader since August 2007.
The finale was a back-and-forth affair that saw five lead changes despite being just a seven-inning game. The T-Bolts took the lead for good with two runs in the fifth.
Mike Torres (2-for-3, 3 runs) singled, moved to third on Kyle Robinson’s double and scored on Mestas’ single to tie the game 4-4.
It was the third consecutive run-scoring single for Mestas, who was hitting in the cleanup spot for the first time as a pro.
“I’d have to eat a bit more to look like a typical cleanup hitter,” said Mestas, who is 6-foot, 205 pounds. “That’s probably the first time since juco that I hit there. I definitely liked it. I came up with a lot of guys on base and fortunately came through. The first two games of the series were pretty tough losses. This win is definitely something we can build off.”
Robinson scored on a Ryan Soares grounder.
Button, who struck out in his first three at-bats, singled on an 0-and-2 pitch in the sixth to drive in two big insurance runs.
“I made sure I had a better two-strike approach,” he said. “I choked up and made sure I got the barrel of the bat on the ball. We came into the dugout after the top of the sixth saying, ‘Let’s get some insurance’ and lo and behold, it came down to me.”
Victor Larez (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings in relief for the win. Daniel Carela worked the seventh for his fourth save.
In the opener, Kalaika Kahoohalahala’s two-run homer off Jessie Snodgrass in the seventh was the big blow as it increased Rockford’s lead to 5-2.
Down 6-2, the T-Bolts scored twice in the eighth and were set to have Kyle Robinson at the plate representing the tying run, but Robinson, who had been warned after arguing two earlier calls, was ejected while coming to the plate and pinch-hitter Doug Joyce struck out. Robinson’s 20-game hit streak was snapped.
T-Bolts manager Ron Biga also was ejected.
Jake Fisher (2-6) took the loss despite a solid effort, allowing three runs — two earned — in six innings.