The River City Rascals played host to the Gateway Grizzlies and earned a 12-8 victory Friday afternoon in their first spring training game of the 2017 campaign.
Overall, 23 different Rascals made an appearance and the offense was rolling early and often tallying 12 total hits and scoring ten of the 12 runs within the first four innings.
Fifth year shortstop Johnny Morales was the man who got the offense clicking and with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Morales laced a bases clearing double to give him three of his five RBI and gave the Rascals a 4-2 lead. Two batters later after a Josh Silver walk, three time Frontier League All-Star catcher Josh Ludy continued the offensive surge with a two-run blast off Grizzlies starter Dylan Craig to extend the lead to 7-2.
In his Rascals career, Ludy has slugged 35 home runs and 157 RBI helping lead the club to two straight Frontier League Championship Series.
Morales got involved with the two-run home run statistic as well, coming with two outs in the fourth that scored teammate Arby Fields.
“Best part about today was getting on to the field with some sunshine and getting back into the game day routine,” Morales said. “As far as swinging the bat, I just tried to keep it simple and put the barrel on the ball. It seemed to work out today.”
The rest of the the Rascals runs came via a wild pitch (Fields, 1st inning) and a pair of RBI singles from first year Rascals Connor Tekyl (4th inning) and Jimmy Kerrigan (7th inning).
Other notables offensively include two hits, including a leadoff double and two runs scored for Fields and a ground rule double late in the game for Jason Merjano.
Pitching wise, right-hander Taylor Cockrell got the start and tossed the first two frames allowing two runs on four hits and struck out four. All seven arms after Cockrell went an inning a piece and newcomers Chris Cummins and Stephan Swagerty both retired the side in order and struck out one.
“I was able to start a couple guys out with good off speed pitches in the zone and then spotted my fastball on both sides of the plate,” Swagerty said. “I’ve been chomping at the bit to get out here and play some other teams, tt was a great opportunity to really see how we have been working.”
Reese Gregory and Brian Bass each threw a scoreless frame and the rest of the Grizzlies six runs came against a trio of relievers in the final three innings, including a four run seventh where the club tallied three of their 16 hits on the day. The Rascals defense was solid behind the mound and played error free baseball for the duration of the game.
River City has a spring training game scheduled for tomorrow night on the road against the same Gateway Grizzlies club and then will travel to Evansville for their final exhibition game on Sunday before the regular season kicks off on May 12th.