SAUGET, ILL. – A leadoff walk and a monster blast off the backwall of the stadium is all the River City Rascals needed to turn an extra-inning marathon into a 6-5 win over the Gateway Grizzlies at GCS Ballpark Monday night.
Leftfielder Eric Williams led off the 10th inning with a walk for the Rascals, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Doug Sanders.
But it was former Grizzlie Jason Patton’s moonshot home run off the backwall of GCS Ballpark in deep right field, his sixth homer of the season, that gave River City the lead for good, and made the score 6-4.
Gateway answered with a run of its own in the 10th, on a two-out hit by catcher Landon Hernandez.
But River City’s Brandon Cunniff was able to strike out Gateway’s Tyler Heil to end the game and give the Rascals their eighth straight win and 27th in their last 32 games.
Three other Rascals homered on Monday, Chad Maddox (#8), Jareck West (#7), and Bobby Burk (#11), bringing River City’s Frontier League-leading total to 71, and its league-leading win total to 43.
But it almost wasn’t enough, as Gateway rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie the score in the eighth and ninth innings.
Grizzlie first baseman Logan Parker, who smacked his 15th homer of the season in the bottom of the first, drove in his second and third runs of the game, with a double to left-center in the eighth to make it 4-3.
Then in the ninth, Kent Gerst lifted a sacrifice fly to right that scored Hernandez, who had reached on an error, and advanced to third on a walk and a wild pitch, to tie the score.
It was a truly dramatic rally for the Grizzlies, who’ve been playing .500 ball in their last 24 games, with 12 wins and 12 losses, while facing the defending league champs, who are on an unmerciless tear through the league right now.
River City is now 43-15 on the season, and remains 7 1/2 games in front of Southern Illinois for first place in the Frontier League West Division.
Gateway fell to 24-34 in 2011, and are 19 games behind the Rascals.
River City will go for the sweep tomorrow, with Zack Robertson (6-0, 3.09 ERA) getting the start, while newly-signed Andres Caceres, a rookie from Arkansas State, will make his professional debut for the Grizzlies.
First pitch Tuesday night at GCS is 7:05 p.m.
Other Frontier League scores on Monday night:
Normal CornBelters 7 Florence Freedom 4
Lake Erie Crushers 4 Washington Wild Things 1
Joliet Slammers 4 Traverse City Beach Bums 3
Southern Illinois 1 Evansville Otters 0
Windy City ThunderBolts 4 Rockford RiverHawks 3