Reese Gregory turned in a complete game and the River City Rascals (12-12) offense tallied six runs on eleven hits to earn a 6-5 win in the series finale against the Washington WildThings (13-10) Thursday night at CarShield Field.
Gregory’s outing was the longest of his career and it was the Rascals second complete game of the season with Tim Koons tossing a gem back on May 25th at Schaumburg.
Prior to Wednesday night, Gregory had only made two professional starts in his career and it didn’t phase the right-hander going up against a WildThings team who put up 18 runs during the first two games of the series.
In the top of the first, Gregory pitched out of a situation with runners on the corners and two outs to keep the game scoreless going into the Rascals first set of at-bats.
The Rascals offense bounced off of that energy and leadoff hitter Jason Merjano took the first pitch out of the left hand of WildThings starter Brian O’Keefe into centerfield to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
Although he was caught stealing two pitches later, the Rascals still went on to score three runs in that inning highlighted by a two-run home run from Braxton Martinez, his fifth of the year which is tied with Merjano for the team lead.
O’Keefe kept the Rascals scoreless for the rest of his outing but his offense provided just one run of support through his five innings of work putting him in line for his second loss of the year.
The lone run of support came in the third inning via a RBI double from Kane Sweeney.
Gregory kept the opponent off the scoreboard the next four innings and he had three extra runs of support after the Rascals put up a three spot in the bottom of the seventh against WildThings reliever Jordan Schwartz.
Brandon Thomas and Clint Freeman notched back-to-back doubles to make it 4-1 and then a sacrifice fly from Jason Merjano extended the lead to four runs.
With two outs, Jimmy Kerrigan tallied his second hit of the night and he would go on to score on a RBI single from Josh SIlver that extended his hitting streak to a team high ten games and give the Rascals their largest lead of the night at 6-1.
Josh Ludy added the clubs final hit, a single in the eighth inning to round out the eleven hit night.
The WildThings didn’t go down easy though in the late stages of the game as they cut the deficit in half against Gregory with a two-run round tripper from Kane Sweeney.
Manager Steve Brook elected to bring Gregory back out in the ninth for the complete game and after a leadoff double by Mike Hill, Gregory recorded back-to-back outs including his sixth strikeout of the night and a good defensive play by Josh Silver.
However, one batter later, a ball got lost in the lights that went down as a RBI single to make it 6-4 and then leadoff man Rashad Brown drove in Kyle Reese to bring the go-ahead run to the plate.
Brook visited the mound and after a conversation with Gregory, kept him in and watched his righty finish out his first career complete game with a ground ball up the middle to Johnny Morales.
Earning his second win of the year, Gregory’s final line was nine innings, allowing five runs, earned, on nine hits and struck out six compared to just one walk.
“Reese did an outstanding job tonight. The thing that I was most impressed with was the fact that he only had one walk over the course of his nine innings,” Brook said. “He was able to fill up the zone, force contact and kept people off balance.”
“We needed a win and I just came to the field prepared to do everything I could to help complete a huge series” Gregory said. “Our bats have been on fire the last couple of days so I had full confidence that they would be able to get the job done again tonight for me and they did.”
Gregory and the offense propelled the Rascals to their third series win at CarShield Field and they look to start a new series Friday night on a high note as they host the Windy City ThunderBolts for a three game series.
FIrst pitch is scheduled for 6:35 with southpaw Austin Warner on the mound.