(Courtesy River City Rascals)
Rookie Tim Koons takes a no hitter into the eighth and MVP candidate Josh Ludy belts his league leading 15th homerun of the season, as the Rascals defeat the Gateway Grizzlies by a score of 3-1 at GCS Ballpark.
After a tough loss to Gateway in game one of the short two-game series, the Rascals sent rookie starter Tim Koons to the mound for his third professional appearance. The Grizzlies then matched Koons with their soft-tossing left-hander Kerry Kelley.
The Rascals continued their offensive woes in the top of the first as they stranded two aboard on a fly-out to rightfield by third-baseman Taylor Ard. Koons then took the hill in the bottom of the first—trying to earn his first professional win—and started his night off perfectly with a one-two-three inning to send the game into the second tied at zero.
River City would then strand another base-runner aboard in the top of the third, as they once again fail to push across a go-ahead run. Koons would again match Kelley though by keeping the Grizzlies scoreless through two as well. The game would only remain scoreless through two however, as the Rascals took their first lead of the series on a sacrifice-fly by Josh Ludy, scoring Williams from third and putting River City up 1-0 heading into the bottom of inning number three.
In the bottom of the third Koons faced imminent danger as he loaded the bases on two hit-by-pitches and a walk, but was thankfully able to work out of it by striking out the former Frontier League MVP Landon Hernandez to maintain the 1-0 River City lead through three at GCS Ballpark.
The Rascals then had an opportunity to add some insurance runs to the board in the top of the fourth with the bases loaded but unfortunately couldn’t capitalize on the chance as Eric Williams grounded-out back to the pitcher to end the River City threat. Koons would then retake the mound and have his second one-two-three inning of the game, keeping River City ahead by one after four.
Power-hitter Josh Ludy would come through with his fifteenth homerun of the season in the top of the fifth to double the Rascals’ lead—making it 2-0 River City after four-and-a-half in Sauget, Illinois. The young lad Tim Koons would then strand a runner on base once again in the bottom of the fifth to keep the Grizzlies off the board through five.
River City small-ball at its finest was again on display in the top of the sixth, as Rascals’ outfielder Evan Crawford put down the perfect squeeze-bunt to score the runner, Zach Kometani, from third—making it a 3-0 River City lead.
After a scoreless top of the seventh, Koons would retake the mound in the bottom of the inning to once again keep Gateway off the board—therefore, the Grizzlies had no runs and no hits through seven at GCS. Heading into the eighth with a 3-0 lead, the Rascals went one-two-three at the plate to send Koons back on the mound in the bottom of the inning, to continue his flirtation with history.
Tim Koons would unfortunately lose the no-hit bid after 7.1 innings on a one-out triple by Michael Johnson—just dropping in on the valiant diving effort by leftfielder Eric Williams. After Kennedy came in from the pen, and the inning was completed, Koons had a linescore of 7.1 innings pitched, allowing just one hit and one run while striking out six and walking four. The game then stood 3-1 River City heading into the ninth in Sauget.
After a scoreless top of the ninth, Gabriel Shaw came in to try and lock down his 13th save of the season with River City on top 3-1. Shaw would set down three in a row to put the nail in the metaphorical coffin, as he earned his 13th save of 2014. The win in the ballgame went to rookie Tim Koons—his first as a professional—with the loss going to opposing starter Kerry Kelley.