(Photo Credit: Mick Lite)
In the words of public address announcer Tom Calhoun, it’s time to get Grrrrrrrrrrizzlie.
With Pete Rose in the house and a line of fans anticipating their meet and greet moment, the Gateway Grizzlies fell 6-2 to the Rockford Aviators in the Frontier League season opener for both teams.
Prior to the game, Pete met with media members and discussed his playing career, his relationship with Stan Musial, and his job working for Fox Sports as a baseball analyst. Notably missing from the interview were questions about his suspension from Major League Baseball and his new found hope of being reinstated by new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
Throughout the night, Charlie Hustle coached in the first and third base boxes, toured the stadium to mingle with fans, mingled with fans, and joined broadcaster Sam Levitt on the Grizzlies Radio Network.
After the hoopla of the MLB all time hit king being at the stadium, the Grizzlies had a game to focus on. With only nice players returning from last year’s team and twelve with any Frontier League experience, the Grizzlies are a team with a lot of unknowns. One player that is not an unknown was Friday’s starter, JaVaun West. West is in his fourth season with Gateway and posted a 7-3 record with a 3.61 ERA and was named to his second straight All Star Game. He was opposed by Rockford started Kyle Brueggemann.
West’s adrenaline was pumping early in front of 5,344, as he hit the lead off batter with the first pitch, but quickly settled in after he was thrown out at second.
Rockford led off the scoring in the second inning when outfielder Teodoro Martinez hit a blast into the right field corner hot tub for a solo shot.
Ben Waldrip blooped in the first hit of the night for the Grizzlies in the third inning which was quickly followed up with a two run homer by outfielder Shawn Payne to tie the game up at two runs apiece.
West pitched a masterpiece, allowing two runs over six innings, scattering five hits with six strikeouts and ninety pitches. Troy Barton relieved him, giving up a lead off double to Greg Valazquez, followed by a walk to Ryan Breen. Both men came in to score when Devon Rodriguez lined a shot down the left field line for a stand up double.
Rockford starter Kyle Brueggemann went a strong 6 2/3 innings, tossing 96 pitches, 63 of them strikes. He allowed only three hits, two of which came home on the Waldrip homer.
The Aviators broke it open with a two run homer by Michael Hur in the ninth inning to make it 6-2.
Gateway and Rockford return to action Saturday night at GCS Stadium at 7:00. Tyler Thompson starts for Gateway and will face Aviators hurler Tony Rizzotti.
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