Paul Kronenfeld stroked a grand slam and Reese Gregory earned his team leading eighth win of the year as the River City Rascals (40-35) powered past the Gateway Grizzlies (23-51) 12-5 Tuesday night at CarShield Field.
Kronenfeld’s grand slam was his first home run as a member of the Rascals since coming over in a trade from the Schaumburg Boomers. It was just one of the Rascals seven hits in the biggest offensive inning of the night.
Heading into the frame, the Rascals held a 3-1 lead and would end up sending eleven batters to the plate and struck for six runs against the opponent's starting pitcher, Will Anderson.
Jason Merjano got things going with a leadoff single in the frame and then would scamper home on Josh Silver’s 20th double of the year to extend the Rascals lead to 4-1.
With one out and Silver on second, Braxton Martinez added to the Rascals lead with a RBI single and was the first of three straight Rascals to reach before the grand slam from Paul Kronenfeld.
Josh Ludy and Mike Jurgella followed the round tripper with a pair of singles and chased Anderson out of the game in line for his eleventh loss of the year.
In 3.1 innings, he allowed eight runs, earned, on eleven hits and struck out three.
The two runs that he gave up prior to the fourth inning came via a solo home run from Brandon Thomas and a RBI double from Josh Ludy.
Gateway used three relievers after Anderson was pulled and the Rascals were able to manage runs against two of them, Tanner Cable and Jack Hranec.
Against Cable, the Rascals batted around in the seventh inning and tagged the righty for three runs. Taylor Love drove in the first run with a RBI ground out and then Thomas and Jurgella both notched RBI singles to extend the Rascals lead to 11-1.
Love also drove in the Rascals final run of the night with a RBI fielder’s choice and notched his third multi-RBI game of the year.
In total, the Rascals totaled 16 hits, one short of their season high and all nine players in the lineup tallied at least one. Six separate Rascals got two hits (Thomas, Kronenfeld, Ludy, Jurgella, Merjano, Freeman) and five players also scored a pair of runs.
“We knew we needed to take good at-bats tonight and hit the right pitches in order to stay in the playoff race,” Merjano said.
Similar to the offense, the Rascals pitching was also dominant and it was Reese Gregory who was in cruise control through the majority of the night.
He gave up just one run through the first seven innings and at one point retired 14 in a row until a one out single from Cody Livesay prior to the seventh inning stretch snapped the streak.
Gregory was beat with a three-run home run by Blake Brown in the top of the eighth inning, but just two of those three runs to come into score were earned and he finished with a final line of 7.1 innings, allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits and struck six. Gregory also didn’t walk anyone and he notched his ninth quality start of the year.
“Ludy and I were in sync with pitches all game and knew their bats were going to come around and they did in the later innings,” Gregory said “I worked to just hit my spots and keep them off balance, my teammates took care of the rest.”
Nick Kennedy tossed the rest of the eighth inning after Gregory was pulled and Matt Chavarria toed the rubber for the ninth. Chavarria suffered one run on a RBI ground out from Blake Brown to finalize the scoring at 12-5.
The Rascals look to ride their hot bats into the road portion of the series and continue their season Wednesday night in Sauget, Illinois, against the Gateway Grizzlies.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with southpaw Dan Ludwig on the mound.