Home BaseballGateway Grizzlies Grizzlies Rally Big To Top Otters, Force Game Three

Grizzlies Rally Big To Top Otters, Force Game Three

by Jason Guerette

With their backs against the wall after a heartbreaking loss to the Evansville Otters on the road in Game One of the 2023 Frontier League West Division Series, the Gateway Grizzlies came back from a 4-0 first-inning deficit in the must-win second game of the best-of-three set, and blew the game open late in a 15-5 triumph at Grizzlies Ballpark. 

The game got off to the rockiest of starts for Collin Sullivan (1-0) and the Grizzlies, as Noah Myers led off the game with a triple, and three batters later, Jeffrey Baez hit an RBI single to put the Otters ahead 1-0. Game One hero Kona Quiggle then hit a three-run homer over the right-center field wall to put the Grizzlies behind by four. 

Sullivan then responded in a big way, as the ace of the staff turned on a faucet of strikeouts in the next few innings, striking out nine of the next 12 batters he faced while allowing just one Evansville batter to reach base at all.  

In the meantime, Gateway’s offense woke up in a big way. In the second inning, after Otters starter Zach Smith issued a pair of leadoff walks and D.J. Stewart hit into a fielder’s choice to move the lead runner to third base, Mark Vierling got Gateway on the board with a sacrifice fly at 4-1.  

In the third, the Grizzlies would put up a five-run outburst to chase Smith from the game, as after Jairus Richards and Eric Rivera walked, then stole third and second base, respectively, Peter Zimmermann drove both in on a single to make it 4-3. Clint Freeman then singled against new pitcher Parker Brahms (0-1), and Andrew Penner was hit by a pitch to set up a game-tying sacrifice fly by Kyle Gaedele, which knotted the score at 4-4. A wild pitch by Brahms brought in the go-ahead run before a second sacrifice fly by Vierling made it 6-4 Grizzlies after three innings. 

Yet another sacrifice fly in the fourth inning expanded the lead to 7-4 while Sullivan dealt, and the Otters would not score again until the sixth inning, when Dakota Phillips ambushed the first pitch by Sullivan for a solo home run to cut the lead to 7-5. Evansville then got the tying run to the plate later in the sixth and seventh, while getting the tying runs on base in the eighth.  

But after Nathanial Tate got out of the jam, the Grizzlies blew the game wide open in the bottom of the eighth, batting around and scoring eight runs on RBI singles by Vierling and Rivera, an error on Quiggle in center field, a two-run single by Penner, and a three-run homer by Stewart to complete the scoring. St. Louis natives Stewart and Vierling had three RBIs apiece to pace the Grizzlies’ offense in the huge win, with Penner, Rivera, and Zimmermann each driving in two runs  

With the victory, Gateway forces a do-or-die Game Three of the West Division Series on Sunday, September 10. Joey Gonzalez will get the start on the mound opposite Evansville’s Tim Holdgrafer with the season on the line for both teams. First pitch at Grizzlies Ballpark is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT.

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.

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