The River City Rascals (16-13) split a doubleheader against the Washington WildThings (15-14) with both games being decided by the same score, 4-3, Wednesday night at WildThings park in Washington, PA.
River City extended their season long winning streak to five games with their fourth one run victory of the year and improved to four games over .500 with the 4-3 victory in game one.
The Rascals struggled to string together hits through the first five frames against WildThings starter Trevor Foss but found their groove in the sixth inning sending eight batters to the plate and scored three runs on four hits.
Prior to the offensive inning, the Rascals had mustered just three total hits and trailed 1-0 against a pitcher who was one complete game shy of the league record with eight complete games in 2016 while maintaining a 2.50 ERA.
However, Jimmy Kerrigan turned things around and led off with a single to keep his hitting streak alive at 14 games. Foss then issued a walk to Josh Silver and with the tying run on base, manager Steve Brook elected to pinch-hit Brandon Thomas and he executed perfectly delivering a sacrifice bunt to move both runners in scoring position.
With one out, Mike Jurgella was down in the count 0-2 and then after fouling off a trio of pitches, won the battle with a single up in the middle that scored two runs and gave the Rascals a 2-1 lead. Josh Ludy followed that up with a single of his own and then two batters later, Clint Freeman notched the final hit of the inning with a RBI single to extend the Rascals lead to 3-1.
That would be the final inning for Foss and he took the loss allowing three runs, earned, on seven hits and struck out four.
WildThings reliever Davis Adkins would come on to throw the seventh and he allowed what would go on to be the winning run, a RBI single from Kerrigan to drive in Merjano pushing the Rascals lead to 4-1.
On the mound for the Rascals was Dan Ludwig and he dueled with the WildThings and the
lone run he allowed through his first six innings was a solo home run to Alex Fernandez in the opening frame.
After that hit, Ludwig allowed just one runner in scoring position and then he took the mound in the seventh inning looking for his first complete game of the year.
It wasn’t as smooth sailing as Ludwig had hoped and he allowed the first three men to reach via a leadoff walk, a single and a hit batter to chase him from the game.
With a 4-1 lead, Brook called for veteran Nick Kennedy for his third save opportunity of the year and on the second pitch of his outing, Justin Bohn grounded into a 1-2-3 double play. However, the next batter, Kyle Pollock, picked up Bohn and drove in both runners on base to cut the deficit to just one run.
With the tying run on base, Kennedy issued a groundout to Kenny Peoples-Walls to convert his third save of the year and give the Rascals the chance to sweep their first doubleheader of the year in game two.
Ludwig earned the win with the quality start, lasting six innings allowing the three earned runs on six hits and struck out seven.
Similar to game one, the opponent struck first but this time was against the Rascals righty Reese Gregory and not until the fourth inning. The run was also unearned as a fielding error caused Rashad Brown to reach third and then he came into score with two outs on an infield single from Hector Roa.
Also like game one, the Rascals didn’t score until the sixth inning and on the mound for Washington was southpaw Brian O’Keefe.
O’Keefe allowed just three hits going into the sixth inning and then allowed two straight in the frame, a leadoff triple to Jimmy Kerrigan and a RBI single to Josh Silver to lose the lead.
Silver totaled three hits total in the game and he, like Kerrigan, is on a team high 15 game hitting streak.
“I’m seeing the ball well lately and just trying to hit the ball hard every time I come up,” Silver said.
Silver was the final batter of the night for O’Keefe and in came right-hander Zach Strecker.The first man he had to face was Braxton Martinez, however during his at-bat, Silver stole second and then got to third on the throw from John Fidanza that went into centerfield.
With no outs and the go-ahead run on third, Martinez drove in Silver to take the 2-1 lead.
However, the opponent answered right back with a triple and RBI single of their own to take tie the game against Gregory, in what would be his final inning.
Looking for the doubleheader sweep, the Rascals put themselves in a great position with a leadoff pinch-hit double from rookie Trent Leimkuehler. He advanced to third on a wild pitch from Strecker but then after a Clint Freeman walk, Leimkuehler was thrown out at home in a double play ball off the bat of Johnny Morales.
Despite the WildThings taking the momentum, leadoff man Jason Merjano stepped to the plate and delivered a go-ahead RBI triple to score Morales to take a 3-2 lead.
“It was a huge hit that gave us the momentum right back,” Merjano said. “Even though it doesn’t really show, as a team we hit the ball hard all day and things just have to fall in better ways sometimes.”
Kennedy earned the save in game one and it was the Rascals team leader in ERA Jason Zgardowski to come in for the save opportunity in game two.
However, the closer walked three of the first four batters and then the tying run came into score on a passed ball.
With the tying run at third, Zgardowski struck out Bralin Jackson and then southpaw Lucas Laster was called upon to face left-handed bat Kane Sweeney.
With a 1-1 count, Sweeney ended the game with a walk-off RBI single and salvaged the night for his team.
Despite the rough loss, the Rascals have the chance to win their third consecutive series Thursday night against Washington. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. with Austin Warner on the mound.