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Rivets drop season opener as sports slowly return

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LOVES PARK (WREX) — The Northwoods League season is pressing on through the COVID-19 pandemic, with teams playing in pods of geographically close teams. The Rockford Rivets hosted the La Crosse Loggers to open their season Wednesday night, with the Loggers claiming a 1-0 victory.

The Rivets managed just one hit in the game, a single off the bat of University of Illinois product Ryan Hampe. Another Fighting Illini product, Jimmy Burnette, took the mound as Rockford's opening day starter. He struck out three batters in three innings, without allowing a hit. Rockford's pitchers took a combined no-hitter into the 6th inning and the game remained scoreless until the ninth.

That's when La Crosse's J.T. Thompson drove in the game's only run on a gap shot to left-center, bringing home the winning run.

An announced crowd of 691 fans came out to the ballpark for their first taste of live sports in a long time. The sports world was pretty much put on hold in mid-March due to COVID-19. Rockford Speedway opened its season last weekend, and now baseball is back in the Rockford area.

The Rivets are allowing about one-third capacity at the stadium, with every other row remaining empty and leaving three seats empty between parties in the same row to help with social distancing measures.

Derek Bayne

Derek Bayne joined 13 WREX as the sports director in December of 2011. He grew up in the Chicago suburbs and moved back to Illinois after working several years in North Carolina. For any sports story ideas or tips, you can email dbayne@wrex.com.

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