The Gateway Grizzlies won their fourth straight game on Tuesday night back home at GCS Credit Union Ballpark, getting contributions from many sources in beating the first-place Washington Wild Things 8-7 to take the series opener.
It was the Grizzlies’ all-stars who shone brightest in a back-and-forth affair in Sauget- after Washington used back-to-back leadoff doubles in the top of the first inning to take a 2-0 early lead, Gateway responded by loading the bases on a triple and two walks for all-star Trevor Achenbach, who lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 2-1. Jay Prather followed with a ground ball to the right side of the infield that plated another run and tied the game up at 2-2.
Washington reclaimed the lead off starter Jared Milch in the third inning on Hector Roa’s two-out RBI single at 3-2, but in the bottom of the fourth, also with two outs, all-star outfielder Isaac Benard put the Grizzlies ahead with a two-run home run at 4-3, extending his personal hit streak to 14 games in a row in the process.
The West Division-leading Wild Things bounced back immediately, scoring three more runs in the top of the fifth on back-to-back RBI hits by Wagner Lagrange and Andrew Czech to go ahead 6-4, but in the bottom of the sixth against reliever Kenny Pierson (2-2), it was Gateway who would take the lead for good. After leadoff singles by Benard and Zach Racusin, Achenbach stepped up and launched his team-leading 17th home run of the season out to left-center field, a go-ahead, three-run shot to make it 7-6 Grizzlies. Two batters later, Clint Freeman’s RBI double made the score 8-6.
A solo homer by Niko Pacheco in the top of the eighth made it an 8-7 ballgame, and the Wild Things also got the tying run into scoring position in the ninth against all-star pitcher John Murphy, but would not score that runner as Murphy struck out the side for the save.
Achenbach finished 2-for-3 while tying his season-high with four RBIs in the game, while Benard ended up 3-for-4 and was a triple away from the cycle. Freeman also enjoyed a multi-hit night as part of the Grizzlies’ 12-hit attack offensively. On the mound, Nick Kennedy (1-0) earned his first win of the season by tossing three shutout innings in relief of Milch.
The Grizzlies will look to make it five wins in a row on Wednesday, July 13, at 6:45 p.m. in the middle game of the series against the Wild Things. Justin Ferrell will get the start on the mound for the Grizzlies.