Behind a four-hit evening for Logan Davis and more sensational work from their bullpen, the Gateway Grizzlies beat the Normal CornBelters in the opener of a three-game set on Tuesday night, 5-4.
Davis drove in the game-winning run with an RBI double in the sixth inning to break a 4-4 tie. He collected two singles, two doubles, and two runs scored to pace Gateway’s offense throughout the night.
RHP Vince Molesky (1-0) started the game for the Grizzlies and completed the first three innings with no runs across. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies’ bats struck early and often against Normal right-hander Ben Eckels.
In the first, Gateway loaded the bases while Eckels issued his third walk of the frame to Brandon Thomas, which surrendered a run. The Grizzlies scored three runs on three hits in the second, including run-scoring hits from Davis and Cody Livesay.
The Grizzlies (5-5) took a 4-0 lead into the top half of the fourth, but that’s when the CornBelters (2-8) touched up Molesky. Robert Perucki drove in Normal’s first run with an RBI single while Alex Schmidt followed with a base hit to make it 4-2. The CornBelters tied the ballgame on Victor Barron’s two-run double down the right field line.
RHP Matt Chavarria (0-1) replaced Eckels in the second inning and would go on to throw four scoreless innings in a row out of the bullpen. In the sixth, he allowed the game-winning hit to Davis.
Gateway’s bullpen, which had allowed just a single run in their last 15 innings on the mound as a unit, was again stellar in relief.
With the Grizzlies leading 5-4, LHP Jon Jones tossed a scoreless eighth. In the ninth, RHP JaVaun West put the tying and go-ahead runs on-base but was able to get Dillon Haupt to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game. West notched his third save of the season.
The Grizzlies and CornBelters play the middle game of their three-game set at GCS Ballpark on Wednesday evening. Gateway sends lefty Corey Kimes (0-0, 9.00 ERA) to the mound against Normal RHP Chris Carmain (0-1, 6.35 ERA).
The game can be heard on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs Wednesday on 1400 AM KJFF and www.GatewayGrizzlies.com/Radio
. Sam Levitt and Matt Sabados will call the game.