Reese Gregory earned his team leading sixth win of the year and the Rascals (26-27) struck for five runs in their first game back from the All-Star break to pick up a 5-1 win over the Southern Illinois Miners (21-31) Friday night at Rent One Park.
The lone run for the Miners came in the opening frame on a sacrifice fly from Craig Massoni and the rival host would end up leaving eleven men on base the rest of the night against Gregory and a trio of relievers.
Gregory finished his night with a six inning quality start, giving up just the one run, earned, on eight hits and struck out three.
“They could have really put us out of the game early but we did a great job limiting the damage in the first and then again in the second and later on in the night,” manager Steve Brook said. “Reese did a great job keeping the opponent off balanced and our defense made some great plays behind him, including our middle infielders Jurgella and Morales.”
Offensively, the Rascals tallied eight hits and got the biggest hit of the night in the third inning against the Miners starter Tyler Stubblefield.
With the bases loaded and one out, Mike Jurgella drilled a two RBI ground rule double to give the Rascals a 2-1 lead and it would grow in due time.
Coming into the contest, Stubblefield had allowed just three earned runs in his last 28.1 innings and that number would double by the time the third inning was complete.
Five pitches after Jurgella’s two RBI hit, fellow Rascals All-Star Josh Silver stroked a ball to center field to drive in the speedy Brandon Thomas on a sacrifice fly.
The Rascals added to their lead in the fifth inning and chased Stubblefield out of the game after Jimmy Kerrigan drew a leadoff walk.
Miners manager Mike Pinto called upon reliever Corey Sessions and after he induced a flyout, Kerrigan showed his athleticism and stole a pair of bases during Silver’s at-bat to put him at third base with one out.
Silver made sure the stolen bases did not go to waste and ripped a single up the middle to drive in Kerrigan and extend the Rascals lead to 4-1.
Already with a pair of hits and two RBI, Silver would eventually come into score the Rascals fifth and final run three innings later (8th) via a sacrifice fly from Josh Ludy.
“We executed extremely well tonight and whenever we had opportunities we were able to get the runs in with hits and sac flies,” Brook said. “The one out two RBI double from Jurgella in the third relieved the pressure and then being able to tack on one more that inning was huge.”
Johnny Morales, like Silver, also finished with a team high two hits and four other players notched a solo knock, including newcomer Paul Kronenfeld who was acquired on Monday in a trade with the Schaumburg Boomers.
Stubblefield took the loss, his second of the year, allowing four runs, earned, on four hits, three walk and struck out five.
The Rascals will look to defeat the Miners once again on Saturday night and win their second straight series on the road.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. with southpaw Dan Ludwig on the mound.