The Gateway Grizzlies used three home runs Wednesday night to power their way past the Normal CornBelters 8-5 at GCS Ballpark.
The Grizzlies (37-48) have now won seven of their last eight games. Meanwhile, the CornBelters (52-34) have dropped three straight since winning 14 of 15.
Gateway trailed 3-0 after three innings but used the long ball to fight back and cruise to victory. Normal RHP Kevin Johnson (7-5) had retired 14 batters in a row until he issued a two-out walk to Grant Buckner in the fifth inning. Richard Seigel followed with a single and both came around to score when Ryan Johns doubled down the leftfield line. John’s two-RBI double cut the deficit to 3-2.
Normal put runners at second and third in the top of the sixth inning, but couldn’t pad their lead. That proved costly because Gateway would take the lead in the bottom half. Johnson walked Craig Massoni to start the inning and Ben Waldrip followed with a two-run blast over the fence to put Gateway on top 4-3.
Waldrip’s home run knocked Johnson out of the game, but the home runs continued against the Normal bullpen. Massoni crushed a two-run home run with one out to extend the lead to 6-3 and Blake Brown followed suit with a two-run shot as well. Waldrip singled after Massoni’s home run and Brown brought him home with his 21st homer of the season.
Pat McKenna’s home run in the ninth inning cut the Gateway lead to three runs but Normal couldn’t mount a comeback. Ross Spurgeon (2-0) picked up the win after pitching 1.1 scoreless innings in relief of Spencer.
Cody Livesay led Gateway with three hits and Richard Lucas had three for the CornBelters.
Gateway will go for the sweep of Normal Thursday night at GCS Ballpark. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. RHP Dakota Smith (2-2, 3.53) will take the mound for Gateway and RHP Michael Schweiss (7-7, 3.42) will pitch for Gateway. Sam Levitt and Kevin Schaefer will call the action on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs on 101 ESPN’s digital platforms and 1400 AM KJFF.