LOVES PARK, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — One positive COVID-19 case in the organization paused the Rockford Rivets season last Fridya, but the Rivets will be back on the field Thursday. Their season will resume when they play up in Green Bay.
The team was given the go-ahead to play again by the Northwoods League and by local health department officials since no one else in the organization has tested positive for the virus.
But the Rivets team that will take the field the final two-plus weeks of the season will be an almost entirely new team. The only regular player on the pre-pause roster who is still with the team is pitcher Noah DeLuga. All of the other regulars have gone into quarantine to prepare to return to their respective colleges.
To restock the roster Rivets General Manager Chad Bauer called up a bunch of local players who have college experience or who intend to play in college this coming year. One of them is recent Boylan graduate Justin Kerestes. He’ll play first base.
Another is 2016 Hononegah graduate middle-infielder Kyle Hamilton. Other local players on the team include former Guilford playr Jake Klekamd, former Belvidere player Jacob Taft, and Rockford University players Phil Hyland, Troy Tucci and Chris Hawks.
There’s not much time left in the season, but this is still an opportunity for these local guys to show scouts what they can do, and there’s still a Northwoods League playoff spot to shoot for.
“I’ve always dreamed of playing here, growing up coming to games here, so it’s a big deal to be here and to compete,” said Kerestes.
“I’m very excited to play,” said Hamilton. “I’ve been playing baseball all summer so far up in Wisconsin, so it’s good to be back in the home town playing baseball.
Wednesday evening the new Rivets held their first practice. They’re handling the unusual circumstances well.
“I wouldn’t say it’s really weird,” said Hamilton on the team being thrown together so quickly. “I mean we’re all college athletes. We’re all college baseball players. We’re all here one goal, one dream.”
The Rivets also have a new manager. Former Rockford University player J.T. Scara has replaced Josh Keim. Keim also has left the team.
The Rivets have six home games left this season. Their next one will be next Tuesday, August 11.