The Gateway Grizzlies trailed 1-0 for most of the game on Friday night against the Windy City ThunderBolts, but rallied to score two runs in the top of the eighth, then held that lead for a 2-1 victory at Ozinga Field, winning their ninth consecutive contest.
The game was a pitcher’s duel between Henry Omana for Windy City and Joey Gonzalez (3-1) for the Grizzlies. Omana was perfect through three innings, and did not give up a hit until the fifth in pitching six shutout frames with nine strikeouts.
Gonzalez, meanwhile, allowed the game’s first run in the bottom of the second when the ThunderBolts got back-to-back leadoff singles and a successful sacrifice bunt before Paul Coumoulos scored Dan Robinson with an RBI groundout to shortstop for a 1-0 lead. The Grizzlies starter would settle into a big-time groove in the middle frames, however, finishing seven-plus innings and striking out six while retiring 11 batters in a row at one point to keep it a 1-0 game.
In the top of the eighth, Gateway’s offense finally broke through- Peter Zimmermann singled with one out and Andrew Penner drew a walk from Windy City reliever Derrick Edington (0-1). Jairus Richards then hit a ball back to the mound with both runners in motion, and Edington’s throw to second base to try and turn a double play was low for an error, allowing Zimmermann to come home with the tying run.
D.J. Stewart then hit a fly ball to center field that Bren Spillane lost in the lights for a base hit, loading the bases for Willie Estrada, who lifted the eventual game-winning sacrifice fly to right field for a 2-1 Gateway lead. The ThunderBolts got the tying run on base in both the eighth and ninth innings on hit batters, but Alec Whaley and Colton Easterwood held the fort, with the latter striking out two in recording his first save as the Grizzlies took the opener of the abbreviated two-game series.
The first-place Grizzlies will look to run their win streak to 10 games and sweep their road trip on Saturday night, June 3, at 6:05 p.m. CT when they take on the ThunderBolts in the series finale. Lukas Veinbergs will start against Windy City right-hander Cole Bellair before Gateway returns to Sauget next week.
Jason Guerette is the Grizzlies' Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations and the "Voice of the Grizzlies." 2023 will be his second season with the organization, handling lead broadcasting duties on the Grizzlies Media Network as well as being in charge of all team press releases and game-day media materials.
2023 will also be Jason's ninth season in the Frontier League after spending 2014-21 in the same role with the Southern Illinois Miners. Overall, he has broadcasted close to 800 games in the league, including playoffs. During the baseball offseason, he serves as a play-by-play broadcaster for Manhattan College and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, with games being seen on ESPN+ among other platforms.
In addition to broadcasting, Jason works as a public address announcer for Seton Hall University women's basketball as well as Columbia University men's and women's basketball. He also spent nine years working "behind the scenes" as a freelance board operator and highlight editor at Westwood One for their coverage of the NFL, NCAA football, and NCAA basketball.
Jason graduated from Seton Hall in 2012 with B.A. in Communication Studies and a minor in Broadcasting & Visual Media.