NORMAL, Ill. — The River City Rascals relied on a pair of solo home runs and a timely error to take the series opener from the Normal CornBelters 3-2 on Tuesday. The Rascals (17-11) entered the ninth inning down a run, but a two-out run in both the ninth and 10th innings erased the deficit and gave them the extra-inning win.
River City started things off with a bang and a bit of foreshadowing. Kyle Gaedele hit a solo home run as the third batter of the game, the first of three two-out runs. It was Gaedele’s fourth home run of the season and fourth in five days.
From there it was a pitcher’s duel. The Rascals’ Jason Ziegler had by far his best start of the season. The lefty was yet to complete six innings this season. Ziegler was super efficient; he made it to the seventh in just 64 pitches. In the seventh, he was able to get the first out on a flyout to center field before a single convinced Manager Steve Brook to relieve him. Unfortunately, Will Schierholz gave up a two-run home run two batters later blemishing Ziegler’s previously unblemished stat line, and more importantly giving the CornBelters a 2-1 lead. Ziegler’s line went in the books at 6.1 innings, 1 earned run, 3 strikeouts and no walks. Schierholz was able to pitch the rest of the seventh and eighth without further damage.
In the top of the ninth, Race Palmenter entered the game to ice the game in front of the home fans in The Corn Crib. Things looked good for Normal, as Palmenter got Alexi Colon and Mike Jurgella to fly out to the center fielder and ground out to the third baseman on four pitches. However, Gordon had other plans and took a 1-1 pitch up and out to tie the game 2-2.
Lucas Laster took over for Schierholz in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the tie. He got a groundout to first, but the CornBelters got a runner in scoring position with a walk and single. Brook made the move to Nick Kennedy. A groundout to the right side gave the Rascals their second out but moved the winning run to just 90 feet away. Kennedy was lifted for Michael Gunn to face Nolan Meadows fresh off his go-head home run. Gunn struck out Meadows on four pitches.
Robby Enslen put himself in scoring position with a one-out, ground-rule double in the top of the tenth. Jason Merjano moved him to third with a groundout to the first baseman. With two outs and two strikes, the next batter, Johnny Morales, hit a roller into the hole that was bobbled by the third baseman Elijah Trail allowing Enslen to score the go-ahead run from third.
Closer Zac Treece slammed the door for the sixth time this season in the bottom of the 10th with a groundout to short and two strikeouts, including one of Trail to add insult to injury.
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