The River City Rascals (40-36) struck for three runs in the ninth inning and had the potential tying run on third base but a pop out in foul territory ended the rally and the Rascals dropped game two of the series, 8-7, against the Gateway Grizzlies (24-51) Wednesday night at GCS Credit Union Ballpark in Sauget, Illinois.
Heading into the final frame, the Rascals trailed 8-4 and were looking for just their second win of the year while trailing after the eighth inning.
With one out, Paul Kronenfeld singled and then after a flyout down the right field line, the Rascals were down to their final out and didn’t go down easy against the Grizzlies closer Kaleb Earls.
Mike Jurgella kept the game alive with a single and then Jason Merjano blasted a three-run home run to bring the Rascals within a run.
Josh Silver and Clint Freeman followed that up with a single to put runners at the corners and then Braxton Martinez drew a six pitch walk to load the bases to give the Rascals the potential go-ahead run into scoring position.
Grizzlies manager Phil Warren went to the bullpen and he brought in the Grizzlies number one starter in Vincent Molesky to face Johnny Morales.
With just two days off since his last start, Molesky induced a pop out in foul territory and got help from his first baseman, Ramon Osuna, who made the grab right in front of a fan to end the game.
Prior to the ninth inning, all four of the Rascals runs also came via the round tripper and the first one came off the bat of Brandon Thomas, a solo shot to tie the game up at three in the top of the third inning against the Grizzlies starter Alec Kisena.
Kisena also gave up a three run blast to Johnny Morales in the top of the fifth inning but despite the home run, the Rascals still trailed by a run at 5-4.
Kisena remained in line for the win and his team held the narrow one run lead until they blasted a pair of home runs, including a two-run home from Blake Brown to help extend their lead to 8-.4 in the eighth inning.
The four run lead was just enough though as the Rascals rally came up short and it gave the Rascals their fourth loss in their past six games.
Dan Ludwig was tagged with the defeat, his third of the year, and he lasted just 2.2 innings and gave up five runs, three earned, on nine hits and struck out two.
Besides Ludwig, the Rascals used four other relievers, including Jonny Ortiz who notched a career high three strikeouts and held the opponent scoreless for two innings.
Offensively, the Rascals finished with ten hits and Clint Freeman led the way with three and leads the active roster with 25 multi-hit games.
Despite the loss, the Rascals have the chance to win the series Thursday night against the Grizzlies and first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with Tim Koons on the mound.