Sauget, Ill. – The Gateway Grizzlies returned home to GCS Ballpark for the start of a six-game homestand on Tuesday night, but a historic night for Southern Illinois centerfielder Aaron Gates lifted the Miners to a 5-4 win. The ballpark saw a crowd of 6,822 on Tuesday night.
With the Grizzlies leading 3-1 in the fifth, Gates popped a two-run shot off RHP Will Landsheft over the right field fence to tie the game. Gates then hit a solo homer against LHP Jon Jones (0-1) to give Southern Illinois a one-run lead in the seventh.
In the ninth, he blasted another solo blast to give the Miners (12-9) an important insurance run and a 5-3 advantage. It was the first time in franchise history that a Southern Illinois player hit three homers in a game.
Gateway (9-14) jumped out on top in the first inning with Craig Massoni’s sixth home run of the season over the center field wall to make it 2-0.
The Miners responded immediately in the top of the second on an error by Massoni, but a heads up play by Cody Livesay in left field to snag Toby DeMello on the basepaths maintained the 2-1 lead.
Livesay tacked on another run for Gateway with a sacrifice fly in the third. Meanwhile, Landsheft put together a quality start, allowing only two earned runs through six innings while striking out seven.
On the opposite end, Miners RHP Dyllon Nuernberg (1-0) went 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts and he gave up three earned runs.
The Grizzlies nearly rallied back in the ninth with a Vin Guglietti RBI single, and then they put runners on first and second with only one out. RHP Zach Cose struck out Blake Brown and got a long flyout from Brandon Thomas to end the game. Cose picked up his third save of the season.
The Grizzlies and Miners continue their three-game series on Wednesday with first pitch at 11:35 a.m. Gateway sends RHP Vince Molesky (1-0, 4.01 ERA) to the mound against RHP Josh Kimborowicz (3-0, 2.80 ERA).
The game can be heard on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs Wednesday on 94.3 FM/1570 AM WBGZ and online at www.GatewayGrizzlies.com/Radio