Grizzlies and CornBelters are suspended by rain in seventh inning

News-DemocratJune 15, 2013 

— Looking to even their early season series at a game apiece, the Normal CornBelters took a 3-2 lead over the Gateway Grizzlies late on Saturday at a soggy GCS Ballpark.

Mike Schwartz singled in T.J. Gavlik with two outs in the seventh inning to break a 2-all tie as the CornBelters tried to end the Grizzlies' eight-game winning streak.

The game was then halted by rain and suspended with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.

It will be resumed from that point at 4:05 p.m. on Sunday. The scheduled game will follow at 6:05 p.m.

Looking to extend its longest winning streak since reeling off 12 victories in a row in 2007, Gateway (17-7) took a 2-0 lead on an RBI double by Chris McClendon in the third inning and a solo home run by Landon Hernandez in the fourth.

With ace Tim Brown (3-2) on the mound, the lead appeared safe until Normal scored single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to take the lead.

The Grizzlies pitcher of the Year in 2012, when he led the Frontier League in wins (12) and earned run average (2.27), Brown struck out five of the first nine hitters he faced.

A graduate of Clayton, (Mo.) High School, Brown threw just 31 pitches, 25 for strikes, in the first three innings.

Gateway had runners on base against in each of the first two innings, before denting the scoreboard in the third.

With two outs, Jonathan Johnson doubled and remained at second when Jose Flores drew a walk.

McClendon, playing in his fifth game after missing two weeks with a hamstring injury, then ripped a 1-0 pitch into the right-center field alley for a double.

Johnson scored easily for the first run of the night, but Flores was thrown out at the plate on a relay throw from CornBelters second baseman Santiago Chirino.

Normal threatened in the fourth inning, when leadoff hitter Schwartz became its first baserunner after he singled.

Schwartz advanced to second on a bunt and went to third when Matt Wright lined out to deep right.

Romulo Ruiz then reached on a fielder's choice, putting runners on first and third, but Brown retired David Medina for the third out.

Hernandez made it 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth with his fourth homer run, which sailed just inside the left-field foul pole.

Normal (16-9) cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth when Gavlik homered.

After CornBelters center fielder Matt Wright gunned down Michael Pair on a throw to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, Brown gave up the tying run in the top of the sixth.

Schwartz led off with a single and went to second when Brown walked Patrick McKenna.

With the field becoming wet as the rain intensified, Wright then bunted the ball down the third-base line. Brown fielded the ball, but slipped trying to gather himself and Wright reached to load the bases with nobody out.

A delay of more than 10 minutes followed, as managers from both teams met near home plate and Brown was allowed to change his spikes.

Following the delay, CornBelters cleanup hitter Romulo Ruiz tied it at 2 with a sacrifice fly. But Brown preserved the tie by retiring the next two hitters.

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