CRESTWOOD, IL–The River City Rascals made a valiant comeback effort against the Windy City ThunderBolts in their season opener on Thursday night at Standard Bank Stadium. But the host ThunderBolts had other plans, and won the game 4-3 on a walk-off home run from star catcher Larry Balkwill in the 11th inning, sending the crowd home happy.
The Thunderbolts got the scoring started in the first inning, thanks to a two-run double from Riley Krane. Neither team would score again until the ninth, when the Rascals mounted their dramatic comeback. Down to their final strike, Zach Lavy drew a two-out walk, followed by a single from Kevin Suarez, with Lavy reaching third base on the play. Paul Kronenfeld tied the game with a dramatic line drive double down the right field line, stunning the ThunderBolt faithful and ultimately sending the game to extra innings.
In the 10th, Rascals catcher Mike Jurgella tacked on an RBI double to give the Rascals their first lead of the game. However, Balkwill had the last laugh with his two-run shot off Rascals closer Cody Mincey (0-1) to win the game for the Bolts.
Both starting pitchers were phenomenal, with Rascals starter Josh Kimborowicz going six innings and allowing just two runs, striking out eight and walking only one. ThunderBolt starter Zac Westcott was also impressive, going eight innings without allowing a run, and striking out 10.
Windy City reliever Jack Anderson (1-0) earned the win, pitching the final two innings of the game for the ThunderBolts and allowing one earned run. Rascals relievers Logan Fanning, Jonny Ortiz, Ethan Westphal and Tanner Wilt combined to allow just one hit in four innings out of the bullpen.
The ThunderBolts (1-0) host the Rascals (0-1) in game two of the series tomorrow night, with a first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm CT.