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.