O’FALLON, Mo. – The River City Rascals (44-37) scored seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to race past the Gateway Grizzlies (24-56), 11-6, Tuesday night at CarShield Field and climb their way into the final wild card spot with 15 games remaining.
In total, the hometown team tallied 13 hits, four short of the season high, and slugged three home runs en route to their series opening win.
Clint Freeman and Johnny Morales each notched three RBI and Josh Ludy picked up a three hit game, giving him three multiple hit affairs in the past four games.
The Rascals got on the board first in the bottom half of the second inning with back-to-back hits, including a RBI double from Josh Silver against the Grizzlies starter Alec Kisena.
Clint Freeman extended the Rascals lead to 2-0 with his ninth home run of the year in the bottom of the third, tying his long ball mark from last season.
However, the game took a turn after that and Rascals starter Reese Gregory ran into some bad luck in the top of the fourth inning.
Looking for his team leading ninth win of the year, the righty walked Blake Brown and then Cody Livesay reached on a bunt single down the third base line. Jack Hranec followed that up with a broken bat single and then after a shallow fly out that held all the runners on their respective bases, Brent Sakurai lifted a ball to right center field that barely cleared the wall for a grand slam and put his team up 4-2.
Gregory would hold the Grizzlies scoreless the remainder of the inning but then allowed a two-run home run to slugger Blake Brown one inning later and faced a 6-2 deficit.
The runs in the fifth inning didn’t stop there and the Rascals retaliated with one of their largest offensive innings of the season and put up a seven spot in the bottom of the frame.
Thirteen batters reached in total and four players tallied at least one RBI, including Johnny Morales who brought the Rascals within two runs with his sixth home run of the year, doubling his previous career high set in 2016.
“I just tried to put the ball in play and it so happened to go out the way that it did,” Morales said. “I was happy to drive in two runs and start a big inning that ended up scoring seven runs.”
Jason Merjano notched an RBI single three batters later to cut the deficit to one run and then Silver tied the game at six with a sacrifice fly.
Silver was the final batter of the night for Kisena and Grizzlies manager Phil Warren called upon former New Mexico State Aggie Ruger Rodriguez with one on and two outs.
Paul Kronenfeld was intentionally walked to put two runners on and Braxton Martinez drew a walk after that giving the Rascals a bases loaded situation. The man at the plate was Clint Freeman and he drove in the eventual game winning runs with a two RBI double to give his team an 8-6 lead.
With the lead, the Rascals drew back-to-back walks, including a walk to Johnny Morales with the bases loaded to give him his third RBI of the inning.
The bases loaded walk was the final run of the frame and then the final two Rascals runs occurred after the stretch with back-to-back home runs from Paul Kronenfeld and Braxton Martinez.
Both solo shots came within the first three pitches of the inning from the Grizzlies second reliever of the night, Tanner Cable.
“Our guys came back and rallied tonight and I thought we put together really good at-bats most of the game,” manager Steve Brook said. “When we have a lot of quality at-bats and don’t strike out a lot, good things usually happen, especially here at home.”
Reese Gregory ended up earning his ninth win of the year and allowed six runs, earned, on eight hits and struck out one.
Box Score: http://baseball.pointstreak.com/boxscore.html?gameid=379298
The quick two game series wraps up Wednesday night before the Rascals embark on a nine game road trip.
“We need to keep this thing rolling and play every game like it’s the playoffs because at this point it really is like that for us,” Brook said. “We need to go after each game worrying about what we can do that night and then worry about the next day when it comes.”
First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. with Dan Ludwig on the mound