Johnny Morales smashed a go-ahead solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and
Cody Mincey struck out the side in the ninth to help the River City Rascals (31-29) earn a 7-5
win over the Traverse City Beach Bums (24-34) Saturday night in front of 2, 397 fans at
Morales’s home run was just one of the Rascals four of the night and the long balls accounted
for five of the seven runs for the hometown team.
The Rascals first round tripper came early on in the game off the bat of Mike Jurgella that tied
the game up at one in the bottom of the second inning.
River City wasn’t the only team to put the ball over the wall and the Beach Bums answered in
their next opportunity with one of their own, a two-run shot from Eastern Division All-Star Will
Kengor that put them ahead 3-1.
Rascals righty Tim Koons kept the opponent off the scoreboard for the next two innings before
Arby Fields drilled a ball over the center field wall with a runner on base in the top of the sixth
inning to give the Beach Bums their final two runs of the night.
Field’s homer gave the Beach Bums a 5-2 lead and it was also the final batter of the night for
the Rascals starting pitcher.
In a no-decision, Koons lasted 5.2 innings and allowed five runs on eight hits and struck out
The Rascals first man out of the bullpen was newcomer Jonny Ortiz and he got a strikeout to
end the inning in his professional debut.
“I had a little nerves tonight, I wanted to help the team out and make a good first impression,”
Ortiz said. “I was able to throw strikes and stick to my game plan.”
Josh Ludy helped the team chip away at the lead in the bottom of the sixth with a RBI double to
cut the deficit to 5-3 and then Ortiz would follow that up with a scoreless seventh inning to keep
his team within striking distance.
After the stretch, the Beach Bums went to the bullpen and in exchange for starter John Havird,
manager Dan Rohn went for reliever Jon Escobar and he failed to record an out after facing two
Pinch-hitter Paul Kronenfeld led off with a single and then despite being down in the count 0-2,
Merjano stroked a game tying two-run home run for his seventh long ball of the year.
“Paul had a good at-bat in front of me so I just wanted to stay comfortable in the box and find a
pitch up so he can move around the bases and he happened to leave a slider up,” Merjano said.
Merjano chased Escobar out of the game and then three batters later against righty Matt
Williams is when Morales put his team on top with the solo home-run over the left field wall.
“I was trying to stay simple and see a pitch in the zone,” Morales said. “He hung a slider, my
eyes lit up and I put a good swing on it.”
Clint Freeman hit the team’s fourth homer one inning later against Williams and Rascals closer
Cody Mincey came in and struck out the side in the top of the ninth to earn his seventh save of
the year and secure the 7-5 victory.
“Kronenfeld’s pinch-hit single got us going and then Merjano following it up with his bomb was a
big highlight for us,” manager Steve Brook said. “Morales’s homer was huge also and Freeman
adding an extra run was very helpful.”
Ortiz got the win, his first of his career and Williams took the loss, also his first.
Offensively, besides the four home runs, the Rascals finished with ten hits and three different
players had a pair: Kerrigan, Merjano and Morales.
The comeback win marked just the third win this year for the Rascals when trailing after the
sixth inning and they look to ride off that energy and complete a series sweep over the Traverse
City Beach Bums on Sunday evening.
“It would be great to get a sweep as we start this next week on a long six game road trip,”
First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. with southpaw Hector Hernandez on the mound