The River City Rascals (11-11) scored a season high 13 runs on 17 hits on their way to a 13-7 victory over the Washington WildThings (12-10) in the series opener Tuesday night at CarShield Field.
The 13 runs is three more than their previous season high, which was set on Sunday in the win against the Gateway Grizzlies.
However, Tuesday night wasn’t all in favor of the Rascals as they had a rough beginning to the game and had to play from a five run deficit due to a RBI double from Kenny Peoples-Walls and a grand slam from Bralin Jackson in the top of the second inning.
Trailing 5-0, the Rascals brought fireworks of their own into the home half of the second and sent a total of nine batters to the plate.
With one out, six consecutive Rascals recorded a hit against one of the top arms in the Frontier League, Chase Cunningham, who entered the game with a 0.98 through 27.2 innings.
The offensive stanza began with a double from Josh Ludy and then Brandon Thomas put his team on the board with a two-run moonshot over the rightfield wall. Clint Freeman and Johnny Morales kept the hits coming with a pair of singles and then they would both score via RBI hits from Jason Merjano and Jimmy Kerrigan to plate the Rascals third and fourth runs of the night.
“Those runs to answer back were huge, it showed that we don’t quit and that we will keep rolling no matter what happens,” Merjano said.
Trailing by just one, Rascals starter Tim Koons carried that momentum into his next frame and with the help from catcher Mike Jurgella, got a strike-him-out, throw-him-out to end the inning and keep the WildThings lead at one.
River City was also shut down in the third, but would pounce on Cunningham for two more runs in the fourth thanks to a two RBI single from Josh Silver to give his team their first lead of the game at 6-5.
Washington responded against Koons in their next opportunity and chased him from the game after three consecutive hits, including a RBI single from Mike Hill to tie the game. The first reliever out of the bullpen was Nick Kennedy and he entered the game with runners at the corners and nobody down.
The Rascals veteran struck out his first opponent but wasn’t as successful against Peoples-Walls and the tie was snapped via a RBI single. That would be the final run of the night for the WildThings and the Rascals bullpen held the fort from there combing for five scoreless innings and allowing just two hits while striking out seven.
The WildThings starter was still in the game for the bottom of the fifth and Josh Ludy would make them pay with a RBI double to score MIke Jurgella and tie the game up at seven.
Ludy was the final batter for Cunningham and the reliever that manager Greg Langbhen went to would go on to allow his first runs of the year and take the loss.
Despite throwing a scoreless fifth and sixth, right-hander Davis Adkins allowed the first two guys of the seventh inning to reach and then with after a strikeout, the former member of the Florence Freedom was pulled for southpaw Matt Sabol to face the lefty bat Clint Freeman.
Freeman drew a walk to load the bases and then Johnny Morales answered and knocked in what would go on to be the winning run, a sacrifice fly that scored Jurgella.
One batter later, second baseman Jason Merjano would blow the game open and pick up his seventh hit in the past two games. Down in the count 0-2, Merjano stroked his fifth round tripper of the year to extend the Rascals lead to four.
In the eighth, the Rascals added two more runs to cap off their 17 hit, 13 run night against Joe Ravert, who walked Clint Freeman with the bases loaded and allowed a RBI single to Morales for the 13-7 loss.
Out of the 17 hits, Merjano, Ludy and Jurgella each had a trio and three other players had a pair: Morales, Silver and Freeman. Kerrigan added one to extend his hitting streak to nine games and Brandon Thomas also notched one, his two-run homer.
“Baseball is definitely a game of momentum and there was a lot that happened tonight. The two-run homerun that Brandon hit was a good response to the five spot in the second. If you don’t score there, it really puts your team down. To be able to get those runs and then capitalize the rest of the inning was key,” manager Steve Brook said. “A lot of positives tonight, our bullpen was extremely strong as well and came in and shut the door.”
The winning pitcher was Matt Chavarria, his second of the year which ties the team high. The right-hander went two innings allowing just one hit and struck out two.
The other relievers that tossed scoreless innings after Chavarria were Stephen Swagerty (8th) and Jason Zgardowski (9th).
The series continues Wednesday night as the Rascals look to extend their winning streak to three games. First pitch against Washington is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. with southpaw Dan Ludwig on the mound.
“I think the win on Sunday was huge to bring us together and get everyone on the right page,” Merjano said “We continued to roll today and are going to keep playing as well as we can every day.”