KOKOMO, Ind. – With three weeks left in the season, the Kokomo Jackrabbits have enjoyed a strong second half and now sit firmly in the second of two Prospect League East Division playoff spots. Following a doubleheader sweep of Champion City on July 15, Kokomo is second in the East Division, 1.5 games behind Chillicothe. The Rabbits are also 1.5 games in front of third-place West Virginia with 18 games remaining on the 60-game schedule (59 for Kokomo due to a rained out contest that will not be made-up). The top two teams in each division move on to the playoffs.
In game one against Champion City, the Jackrabbits took home a 1-0, extra inning win in walk-off fashion. It was a strange day of baseball indeed at Kokomo Municipal Stadium. The Jackrabbits and Kings were slated for a doubleheader of seven inning games, but things took a turn for the unexpected.
Game one was stopped in the top of the third due to severe weather that dumped nearly two-inches of rain on the City of Firsts. After a 1 hour and 44-minute delay, play resumed in what became a pitcher’s duel. Jackrabbits starter Alex Dorethy pitched before and after the delay, throwing five shutout innings of one-hit baseball (six strikeouts) before handing the ball to Cam Zunkel. The Rabbits reliever pitched the rest of the way and earned the win with three, one-hit shutout innings to complete the combined shutout – the fourth of the season for the Kokomo pitching staff.
Scoreless in the eighth inning, Marcos Sanchez led-off with a double to left field. It didn’t take long for the Jackrabbits to capitalize as the next batter, Ian Walters, stroked a base hit to right field for a walk-off, RBI single to seal a Jackrabbits victory.
The win was the 50th in skipper Gary McClure’s career in Kokomo. It was also the 10th walk-off victory (second this year) and the 15th extra-innings game (7-8 overall, 5-2 at home) in franchise history.
Game two of the double header was then forfeited by Champion City – its second forfeit in three games – giving the Jackrabbits two wins on the day and improving the teams record to 23-18.
JULY 14: The night before was not as nice to the Jackrabbits as they dropped a 12-9 decision to the West Division leading Terre Haute Rex at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
Runs were easy to come by for both sides in the matchup. Adam Ketelsen got the start for the Jackrabbits and struggled right out of the gate, giving up three runs in the first inning. He was pulled with two outs in the third, giving up seven earned runs on six hits and two walks.
After the team gave up 10 runs in the first four innings the bullpen was able to calm the Rex bats, giving up just two runs the rest of the way. The bullpen performance was highlighted by a strong outing from Chase Nix, who went three innings, collecting four strikeouts without giving up a run.
Colin Butkiewicz was the Kokomo Coke Player of the Game with three hits, including a triple to start a ninth inning rally that looked dangerous. The Jackrabbits scored three runs, then loaded the bases with two outs. Shortstop Neil Lambert struck out to end the game on a called third strike that many in the crowd, and Lambert himself, believed to be ball four.
JULY 13: The Jackrabbits lost on the road at Springfield 11-6.
JULY 12: Two hits were enough to earn the Jackrabbits a home 2-1 win thanks to a quality team effort on the mound. Starting pitcher Chandler Coates earned the win on six innings pitched, allowing just one run. He tallied six strikeouts while giving up just four hits and two walks. His Prospect League-leading sixth win of the season helped earn Coates the Kokomo Coke Player of The Game honors. Pitchers Nick Alvarado, Chase Nix and Braden Niksich (save) combined to throw three scoreless innings in relief of Coates and maintain the Jackrabbits narrow lead.
Tavon Lindsay and John Sechen had Kokomo’s two hits. Ian Walter ripped an RBI and Sechen and Marcos Sanchez scored the two runs.
Courtesy of the Kokomo Jackrabbits and Sports Journal staffs