SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — The River City Rascals relied on a four-run eighth inning to win 5-1 over the Schaumburg Boomers in the series opener Friday night. River City Manager Steve Brook pulled out his best Tony La Russa impression as he used six relievers to pitch the final four innings. The Rascals (11-7) capitalized on the Boomers’ (7-12) mistakes in the field and on the mound to get the win.
Starters Kagen Hopkins and Josh Wright were near perfect for five innings as they threw up dueling zeros on the scoreboard. Finally, in the sixth both teams broke through.
In the top half, AJ Quintero got the first two outs of the inning after entering for the Boomers. Josh Silver began a two-out rally with a single, and was pushed to second by Josh Ludy working a full-count walk. Silver stole third with Robby Enslen at the plate setting the stage for him to score the go-ahead run off an error by Josh Gardiner at shortstop on a ball hit by Enslen six pitches later.
Gardiner got revenge in the bottom of the sixth. His triple ran Wright from the game in favor of Will Schierholz, who promptly gave up the game-tying single to the next batter Jordan Dean. Dean was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double, but two more singles off Schierholz had Brook going to the bullpen once again to get Michael Gunn for the lefty-lefty matchup. Gunn struck out his man, but both runners advanced on a passed ball during the at bat to make it second and third with Reese Gregory coming in. Gregory stuck out center fielder Chris Robinson, who is hitting .190 and went 0-for-4 on the day, to end the threat tied 1-1. Gregory ultimately got the win for pitching two innings of shutout relief, a vast improvement over his debut against the Normal CornBelters when he gave up six earned in less than four innings.
With one out in the eighth, Johnny Morales got the River City rally started once again. Morales doubled and then took third on a balk. From there Boomers pitcher Patrick Dolan’s wildness aided the Rascals. Silver walked and Ludy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Enslen was hit by the very next pitch to force in what would turn out to be the game-winning run. Silver scored on a wild pitch, and Griff Gordon, who was 3-for-4 on the night, capped the scoring with a two-RBI double.
The series continues Saturday night with Tim Koons (0-1, 3.37 ERA) on the mound for the Rascals facing the Boomers’ Josh Heddinger (1-1, 4.50 ERA). Koons is making his return from the injured list with his first start since the second game of the season. He was put on the list after a health scare before a start against the Florence Freedom May 19.
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