The River City Rascals (42-37) fell behind early and failed to warrant a comeback, falling to the Normal CornBelters (37-39), 6-4, in game two of the three game series Saturday night at the Corn Crib.
Despite the defeat, River City opened up the scoring in the top of the second inning with the help of back-to-back quality at-bats with two outs against right-hander Charlie Gillies.
Braxton Martinez drew a walk and then stole his fourth bag of the year to get into scoring position for second year Rascal Clint Freeman. Ahead in the count 2-1, Freeman notched an RBI single to put his team up 1-0.
However, that would be the only lead the Rascals would hold as the Belters bats responded with a four spot in the bottom of the third inning.
Three of the four runs in the frame came via the long ball, including a two-run home run from veteran Aaron Dudley. Craig Lepre also homered and Santiago Chirino tallied a RBI single.
The four runs were allowed by Rascals right-hander Zeb Sneed and he got tagged for two more in the fourth via a two RBI double from Chirino, who finished with four hits on the night.
Chirino was the final batter Sneed faced and would leave the game trailing 6-1 and took just his first loss of the year. Sneed finished with a line of six runs, earned, on eight hits and a strikeout in 3.1 innings of action.
Southpaw Anthony Paesano was the first Rascal out of the bullpen and one appearance after earning his first career win, he would have another dominant performance and lasted a season long 2.2 innings, holding the CornBelters scoreless.
The Rascals offense would make an attempt at a comeback and plated a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning with a pair of RBI doubles from Josh Ludy and Jason Merjano, cutting the deficit to 6-3.
The RBI double extended Merjano’s hitting streak to a eight games and extended his reached base streak to a season high 16 games.
In the sixth inning, Paul Kronenfeld drew a walk and Freeman notched his second hit to bring the tying run up to the plate with one out but Gillies tallied his seventh strikeout and induced a groundout to keep the score at 6-3 and close his line.
Gillies earned his fifth win of the year and allowed three runs, earned, on six hits and struck out seven.
CornBelters Right-hander Chad Gendron faced the minimum in the seventh and the eighth and setup Francisco Carillo for his first save of the year.
Freeman didn’t go down easy in the ninth and blasted his eighth home run to lead off the final frame but that was it as the Rascals went down in order to end the game and set up a rubber match on Sunday afternoon.
First pitch is set for 4:35 p.m. with southpaw Lucas Laster on the mound.