CornBelters put end to Gateway's streak

News-DemocratJune 16, 2013 

— The streak is over.

Patrick McKenna hit a grand slam in the second inning and T.J. Gavlik added a solo clout an inning later as Normal ended the Gateway Grizzlies' winning streak at nine games with a 6-5 victory Sunday, before a crowd of 3,340 at GCS Ballpark.

In the midst of its longest winning streak since 2007, and following a come-from-behind 4-3 win in a game suspended by rain on Saturday, Gateway (18-8) watched as Normal took advantage of a subpar outing by Ja'Vaun West to grab a 6-2 lead after three innings.

Normal starter Ross Davis worked 4 1/3 innings and Mitch Mormann got out of a jam in the fifth as the CornBelters (17-10) salvaged one game out of the series and closed to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Gateway in the Frontier League West Division.

The Grizzlies made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh.

With heavy rain falling, Gateway cut a three-run deficit to one when Jonathan Johnson scored all the way from second on a wild pitch and Jon Myers added a sacrifice fly.

But with runners on first and third, CornBelters reliever Casey Uppermann struck out Antone DeJesus to end the game and the streak.

"We made it interesting didn't we?" Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. "These guys don't quit and I knew they'd battle until the end. We did that. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that we would battle back. We just fell short tonight.

"But there isn't any disappointment at all with this team. We've had a good stretch and we continue to work on improving each day.''

West, who entered the game with a 4-0 mark and 1.80 ERA, struggled with his control for the second straight outing.

Trailing 1-0 in the second, West issued three walks to load the bases.

After a quick visit from pitching coach Randy Martz, McKenna took the first pitch he saw from West and lined his grand slam over the left-center field wall.

Gavlik then sent West to the showers after he hit his home run in the third inning.

"Ja'Vaun's record is good, but his last couple of starts he had been flirting with danger. You can't fall behind and walk hitters like he has done,'' Warren said. "He's working with it and we're working with him.''

Johnson made it 6-2 with a solo home run in the third inning and Jose Flores got Gateway to within 6-3 with a solo shot in the fifth.

Gateway 4, Normal 3

In the completion of the suspended game, Jonathan Johnson lined a bases-loaded single to score Vladimir Frias with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, as the Grizzlies rallied for a victory.

Leading 3-2 in the top of the seventh inning when play was suspended by rain Saturday, Normal saw Gateway tie the game on a double by Jose Flores in the bottom of the inning.

The Grizzlies then won it in the ninth against CornBelters reliever Alan Oaks.

Frias led off with a single and stole second base. Antone DeJesus then reached on an error and Michael Pair was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Jacob Liedka took over for Oaks and was greeted by Johnson, who singled on an 0-2 pitch to win it for Gateway.

Normal, which trailed 2-0 after four innings, broke a 2-all tie in the seventh inning when Mike Schwartz singled in T.J. Gavlik with the go-ahead run.

Following a rain delay of 45 minutes, the game was suspended until Sunday with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.

On Saturday, Grizzlies ace Tim Brown was nearly perfect in the first four innings as Gateway took a 2-0 lead. A run-scoring single by Chris McClendon put Gateway up 1-0 in the third and Landon Hernandez hit a solo homer in the fourth, as the Grizzlies increased their advantage.

Normal tied the game at 2 on a home run by Gavlik in the fifth inning and a sacrifice fly by Romulo Ruiz in the sixth.

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