O’FALLON, Mo. — The comfort of home was not enough to pull the Rascals out of their skid. River City (24-23) lost their third straight series after splitting a doubleheader on Thursday and have now lost 8 of their last 10.
The East Division’s last place Lake Erie Crushers (19-26) took the first game of the series on Tuesday with a 5-3 win in which they jumped out to a 5-0 lead and weathered a late-inning Rascals rally. Torrential rains Tuesday night into Wednesday forced a cancellation, setting up a doubleheader on Thursday of two seven-inning games starting at 4:05 p.m.
In the first game of the doubleheader, seven innings was not enough to decide things and they played an “extra” inning. Taylor Ard plated Jackson Slaid with a one-out double for the rare eighth inning walk-off win. Ard hit his league-leading 13th home run earlier in the contest. Will Schierholz got his second win of the season for coming into the game in the top of the eighth with the bases loaded and getting the final out. Joe Scanio got the start on the mound for the Rascals and pitched 4.1 innings and gave up 1 run on 6 hits.
In the night cap, the Crushers jumped on Ray Hanson for three runs in the top of the first. River City answered in the third to tie it back it up with their own three-run inning that included a 2-run home run from Brian Hansen. The Rascals took the lead with two more in the fourth off an RBI single by Josh Ludy and then scoring himself on Hector Crespo’s double. A run in the fifth and a four-spot in the sixth inning saw the Crushers catch and pass the Rascals. The home team was able to score in both of their next two turns at the plate and even got the game-tying run to third base in the bottom of the seventh, but the heroics of the afternoon could not be replicated.
Headed into their series with the first-place Rockford Aviators on June 23, the Rascals were in second place in the Frontier League West Division with a chance to take at least a share of first place by the time the series ended. The two top dogs of the division split the two games the weather would allow them to play. River City won two-of-three from the Frontier Greys in the weekend series and then headed out on the road for the next week, and that’s where the trouble started. The Normal Cornbelters won all four of their matchups and took second place from the Rascals. The Florence Freedom followed that up by beating the Rascals in the opener and rubber match of their series to hand them their first back-to-back series losses of the year.
At this point, the Rascals sit 5.5 games back of the Aviators and 2 back of the Cornbelters. The Rascals still have half their games left to play, so it’s obviously not time to panic, but this is definitely the worst baseball they have played this season.
The Rascals will look to get back on track with their weekend series against the Gateway Grizzlies (16-31). One would think it would easier to head into the all-star break on a high note against the team that has held down last place in the Frontier League for almost the entire season, but the Grizzlies have given the Rascals fits this year. The teams played both of the series they will play across the River at GCS Ballpark in June, and the Grizzlies took both of the three-game sets.
In the first meeting between the two in O’Fallon this season, the Rascals will send Lucas Laster (0-1, 4.18) to the mound to face Vincent Molesky (3-2, 5.21). Tyler Thompson (1-3, 3.49) and Trevor Richards (1-3, 4.06) are the announced probable starters for the Grizzlies in the next two games.
Friday night is Pete Rose Night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark. Rose has toured the Frontier League this season giving talks before the game, coaching a base for a couple innings and signing a truckload of memorabilia for money. Bobbleheads and VIP tickets were available but have long since sold out.