BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – For the fifth consecutive summer, the Kokomo Jackrabbits will call Municipal Stadium home for the next two months. But new this year is the squads move from the Prospect League to the more competitive, and much-larger, Northwoods League. After one week of play, the Jackrabbits are proving that they are competitive in the Great Lakes East Division with a 3-4 record against division competition.
The Rabbits opened the 2019 campaign on the road against the Madison Mallards, which averages more than 6,000 fans a game, dropping a pair of games 11-1 and 7-2. They returned to the friendly confines of Municipal Stadium and split a pair of series with the Kenosha Kingfish and Rockford Rivets.
Against Kenosha, the Jackrabbits dropped game one 8-7 in 11 innings before winning its first-ever game in the Northwoods League with a thrilling 4-3 victory. The Kingfish led 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth, but the Rabbits struck for a pair. Down 3-2 after seven, Kokomo went to a small ball attack to take the lead courtesy of a pair of sacrifice bunts from Ethan Gallagher and Austin Elder. Leading 4-3 with the tying run on second, right fielder Chase Keng sealed the win with a sensational diving catch in foul territory near the brick wall.
The Jackrabbits second win came in walk-off fashion last Sunday afternoon. Rockford struck first with three in the first only to see Kokomo score two in the bottom of the inning courtesy of singles from Logan Jarvis and Evan Albrecht and a two-run double from Elder. An RBI single from Jack Kraus scored Jeff Timko in the sixth to tie the game at three. The Rivets countered with two in the top of the seventh. Kokomo scored in the bottom of the seventh on a Ryan Layne triple followed by a Jarvis single.
Trailing 5-4 going to the bottom of the ninth, Denzel Clarke led the inning off with a walk only to see the next two Rabbits strike out. Albrecht followed with a walk and Clarke tied the game off a Keng single. The Rivets then brought in Hunter Keim to shut the door, but his second pitch bounced away from the catcher and Albrecht scored with the rare wild pitch walk-off to win.
Kokomo is back in action at Municipal Stadium for a pair of games against Kenosha on June 5-6 (7:05 p.m. both days). After a four-game road trip, the Traverse City Pit Spitters makes its first visit to Kokomo for a four-game series starting on June 11.