Sauget, Ill. – The Gateway Grizzlies took an early three-run lead on Friday night at GCS Ballpark but couldn’t hold on, as the Florence Freedom came back for a 4-3 win in the opener of a three-game set. The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Gateway (7-6).
LHP Patrick McGrath (1-1) struggled early on for Florence (5-7), as the first five Grizzlies would jump on five straight pitches in the first inning for a quartet of singles, a sacrifice fly, and two runs scored. Gateway scored three total runs in the inning as Vin Guglietti closed it out with an RBI double.
The game would remain silent for the next three and a half innings before Florence could respond, when Grizzlies RHP Will Landsheft (1-1) ran into his first trouble.
After allowing a leadoff single and a double to follow, Landsheft would get Travis Weaver on a strikeout. Andre Mercurio then stepped in and laced a single to center field, which brought two runners home. Mercurio would come around to tie the game on a groundout later in the inning.
Landsheft would continue to deal into the sixth inning, retiring the first batter. He then allowed a double to former Grizzlies’ outfielder Richard Siegel. A wild pitch put the go-ahead run only 90 feet away.
After a pair of walks to load the bases, Landsheft was replaced by Grizzlies RHP Jon Pusateri. Josh Henderson drove a single into left to score the run and it gave the Freedom a 4-3 lead.
Gateway’s offense would be silenced following Tyler Tewell’s leadoff single in the 6th, as the relief core from Florence would retire the next twelve batters to close out the game. Ethan Gibbons wrapped things up by striking out the side in the ninth and earning his third save of the season.
The Grizzlies’ bullpen continued to be a bright spot. After Pusateri threw two scoreless innings, LHP Jon Jones and RHP Nate Carter combined to keep the Freedom off the scoreboard for 1.2 innings.
The Grizzlies and Freedom will continue their three game set tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. The Grizzlies send LHP Sasha Kuebel to the mound against Florence RHP Zach Isler.
The game can be heard from GCS Ballpark on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs Saturday starting at 6:50 on 1400 AM KJFF, 94.3 FM WBGZ, and www.GatewayGrizzlies.com/