Walks cost Rholl and Woodchucks in 8-3 loss
The Wisconsin Woodchucks have only had one starting pitcher pitch into or through the sixth inning this year. Rockford’s Cole Bellair has now done that three times. In his best start of the year, Bellair led his Rivets (10-7) to a 8-3 win over the Woodchucks (5-12), which have now lost a season-high five games in a row.
Great Outdoors Night at Athletic Park didn’t prove so great for Chucks starter Kellen Rholl. He tossed a scoreless first but ran into trouble soon after, walking three straight batters in the second to load the bases before getting Pat Loeffler to hit into a double play to end the threat.
But then it happened again. With one out, Rholl walked three straight to load the bases in the third, and his night was over. Josh Bottenfield came in to limit the damage, but Rockford brought all three of Rholl’s runs in, led by a two-RBI single from JC DeMuri. Bottenfield allowed one more run of his own in the fourth when Loeffler singled and scored on a hit from Bren Spillane to make it 4-0 Rivets.
The Woodchucks got two back in the bottom half, however. Tristan Clarke led off with a double and Stevie Mangrum knocked him in with an RBI single before coming around to score on one from Jackson Owens. That made it 4-2, but Rockford pushed two unearned runs across in the sixth against Bottenfield on a two-RBI single by Zach Rheams to extend the lead back to 6-2.
Wisconsin pushed another one across against Bellair in the bottom of the sixth when Mangrum singled and scored on a groundout by Chad Fleischman, but Rockford scored two more late to put the game out of reach. The Rivets added one unearned run in the eighth and an earned run in the ninth on a Ryan Hutchinson base knock to extend the lead to 8-3, and the Woodchucks ran out of time to string a comeback together.
Bellair was rarely flashy but nearly always effective, pitching eight full innings of three-run ball, allowing six hits with four strikeouts and just one walk to improve his record to 2-1. Rholl falls to 0-3.
The three-game homestand concludes tonight against Rockford. Heath Hawkins, fresh off the best Woodchucks start of the year, will look to snap his team’s five-game losing streak against Rockford’s Evan Snyder at 7:05 p.m. at Athletic Park.
Tickets are on sale to all Wisconsin Woodchucks home games and the 2017 Northwoods League Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, presented by Ascension. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling 715.845.5055 or by stopping by the Woodchucks front office during normal business hours.