The River City Rascals had the tying run in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning but a standout defensive play by the Gateway Grizzlies (12-34) ended the game and sent the Rascals (21-24) out of the quick two game homestand with a 6-5 loss.
Brandon Thomas was the runner in scoring position and he got to the second base bag via a one out single and a stolen base against Grizzlies closer Kaleb Earls. Johnny Morales was the man up hunting for the base hit to score Thomas but on a 2-2 pitch, Morales smoked a ball towards first and first baseman Jack Hranec made a diving catch and then quickly fired to second to retire Thomas on a close play to end the game.
The Rascals had to play the majority of the game from behind as the opponent used a three-run opening frame against Reese Gregory to start the game on a high note after losing ten of their past eleven games.
The first two runs crossed the plate on a two RBI triple from Blake Brown and then he scampered home one batter later on a sacrifice fly off the bat of cleanup hitter Terry McClure.
Prior to Saturday night, Gregory had only given up six earned runs in his last 21 innings and went 2-0 in that span.
His offense got one of those runs back in the second when Brandon Thomas smacked a ball off of the right field wall that scored Mike Jurgella.
Gateway got that run back in the fourth and had a 4-1 lead halfway through the game for their starting pitcher Alec Kisena from the Detroit Tigers organization.
Kisena though would labor a bit in the fifth and the Grizzlies had to face a total of nine batters before the inning was complete. The righty walked Morales to get the bottom of the inning started and then after a stolen base and a fly out, Jimmy Kerrigan stroked a triple right over the head of center fielder Matt Hearn to get his team leading 28th RBI and bring the Rascals within a pair of runs.
With a runner on third and one out, Josh Silver closed the gap by driving in Kerrigan with a RBI single and then he would dart home two batters later to tie the game via a RBI single from Mike Jurgella.
That would be the final batter Kisena would face and reliever Javier Reynoso combined with two other relievers the rest of the night to halt the Rascals from taking a lead.
Gateway used a RBI double against Gregory in the sixth and a RBI single against Kennedy in the eighth to take a 6-4 lead putting the Rascals in a tough spot having won just one game all year when trailing after the eighth inning.
Jimmy Kerrigan put the Rascals in a position to try to make it two wins as he clubbed a towering home run in the bottom of the eighth against Michael Elwood to bring the Rascals within one run at 6-5.
However, that was the only run that inning as with a pair of runners on base, Grizzlies manager Phil Warren went to Earls for a four out save.
The save was officially converted in the ninth with a strikeout and the stellar defensive play by Hranec to end the game.
The loss puts the Rascals three games under the .500 mark and they will look to avoid falling a season worst four games under as they hit the road to take on the Grizzlies Sunday night at GCS Ballpark.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 with southpaw Lucas Laster on the mound.
River City Rascals