Jimmy Kerrigan tallied a career high six RBI and southpaw Hector Hernandez earned his first win of the season as the River City Rascals (10-11) avoided the sweep with a 10-1 win over the Gateway Grizzlies (5-16) on a rainy Sunday night in Sauget, Illinois.
The ten runs on 13 hits tied a season high for the Rascals in both categories and the nine run victory was the largest since August 26th of last year.
Of the 13 hits, Jason Merjano led the way with four hits and three other players had a pair, including newcomer Trent Leimkuehler, who picked up his first career hit and RBI to drive in the second run of the game.
Prior to that, the Rascals offense wasted no time getting their season high in hits going as leadoff man Jason Merjano notched his first of four hits in the opening frame against the Grizzlies starter Vince Molesky.
“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the leadoff spot and enjoy seeing the pitcher earlier in the game to help the team out,” Merjano said. “Being able to get on for the guys behind me and make things happen.”
After the hit, Merjano stole second and got to third after a throwing error from Grizzlies catcher Bre’shon Kimbell, putting the returning second baseman 90 feet away from scoring with Jimmy Kerrigan due up.
Kerrigan grounded one up the middle to shortstop Garrett Mattlage to drive in the game’s first run.
In the second inning, the Rascals had five consecutive baserunners reach base to extend their lead to 4-0. After the RBI single from Leimkuehler, Merjano singled and then Kerrigan followed that up with his first two of six runs driven in on the night to give his starter Hector Hernandez a four run lead.
Hernandez would take that momentum and turn in his best start in a Rascals uniform, earning his first win and snapping a three game losing skid.
In total, Hernandez went a season long seven innings and allowed just one run, earned, on three hits, a career high six walks and struck out seven.
River City kept the offense going throughout the game and notched their largest scoring inning in the sixth.
Brandon Thomas led off with a single and then after a stolen base, the former Grizzly scored on a RBI double from Johnny Morales who now has 13 RBI on the year. With one out, Merjano then singled and Kerrigan followed that up with the Rascals offensive highlight of the game, a three-run homer to put his team up 8-1. The three-run blast was the Rascals second in as many days and Kerrigan now has two long balls on the year.
“Only reason I was able to do as good as I was tonight was because the guys ahead of me kept getting on base,” Kerrigan said. “I was trying to be aggressive early, I sat fastball and got one up in the zone and was able to put a barrel on it.”
The sixth was the final inning for Molesky, who took the loss and finished allowing eight runs, seven earned on ten hits.
The first reliever for the Grizzlies was Chad Gendron and he tossed a scoreless seventh inning that featured an inning-ending double play.
However, the Grizzlies second reliever wasn’t as successful and he allowed the final two runs to come home to score. Tanner Cable struggled to find the zone and walked in a pair of runs to cap the Rascals scoring off at 10 runs.
For the Rascals, Jason Zgardowski tossed a scoreless eighth and Stephen Swagerty a scoreless ninth to solidify the Rascals tenth win of the year.
The Rascals closed out the road trip by scoring 20 runs in the final two games and finished out the six gamer with a record of 2-4.
The season will continue Tuesday as the Rascals begin a six game homestand at CarShield Field by welcoming the Washington WildThings to CarShield Field at 6:35 p.m.