The Gateway Grizzlies scored four runs in the top of the first inning and scored runs in each of the first four frames overall on Saturday night against the New Jersey Jackals, leaping out to a 10-0 lead and an eventual 13-8 victory at Yogi Berra Stadium to improve to 6-1 on the season in the series opener.
An error by the Jackals’ shortstop allowed Andrew Penner to reach leading off the game, and after Trevor Achenbach singled, Isaac Benard brought in the game’s first run with an RBI single to make it 1-0. Two batters later, Jay Prather stepped up, and bashed a three-run home run on the first pitch from Jackals’ starter Hayden Shenefield (0-2), making it 4-0 Grizzlies.
The offense would not let up in the subsequent innings. In the second, Gateway scored three runs with two outs on a bases-loaded walk by Peter Zimmermann and a two-run double by Prather, giving him five RBIs on the day and making the score 7-0. Penner then picked up his first RBIs of the season on a two-run single in the third inning to make the score 9-0, and Clint Freeman’s sacrifice fly in the fourth pushed the advantage out to 10-0.
Steven Ridings held the Jackals’ offense down until the fifth, when a pair of home runs by Trevor Abrams and Dalton Combs plated five runs and sliced the Grizzlies’ lead in half, but Gateway would respond by getting two of those runs back in the next inning. Jose Rosario’s RBI groundout increased the lead to 11-5, and Abdiel Diaz came up clutch with a two-out RBI single to make it 12-5.
Zimmermann capped the scoring for the Grizzlies with a solo home run in the eighth, and despite a three-run home run in the ninth inning by Alfredo Marte, the Jackals could not get closer than five runs as Gateway took the first game of their long road trip.
Prather reached base all five times he came up to the plate in the game, going 3-for-3 with a homer, two doubles, three runs scored, and a career-high five RBIs. Penner, Achenbach, and Jackson Pritchard also had multi-hit games for the Grizzlies, who finished with 14 hits as a team while each starting player amassed at least one.
The Grizzlies will look to take the series on Sunday when they face the Jackals in a doubleheader beginning at 11:05 a.m. CT. Matt Mulhearn will start on the mound for game one, while Sam Gardner will draw the starting assignment in game two to conclude the three-game series.