SAUGET — The Fourth of July holiday fireworks began two days early Tuesday at GCS Ballpark.
Jet Butler and Jon Myers hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning to spark an early offensive outburst as the Gateway Grizzlies went on for a 16-5 win over Washington in a Frontier League game.
A crowd of 1,709 sat through an early chilly drizzle in unsummer like cool conditions but were rewarded by witnessing seven home runs -- including four by Gateway. But the Grizzlies (26-13) scored four runs each in the first two innings and went on for the win.
Antone DeJesus added a solo home run while Michael Pair added a two-run home run for Gateway, which also got four hits and four RBI from third baseman Chris McClendon.
DeJesus also finished with four hits on the night. Gateway had season-high 18 hits for the game. The 16 runs is also the most scored by Gateway this season.
But what had the Grizzlies veteran manager Phil Warren all smiles was the balance of his team. Nine Grizzlies had at least one hit and five had two hits or more as Gateway bombed five Wild Things pitchers
"You're never going to hear me complain about what we did with the bats tonight," Warren said. "From top to bottom, we went up and hit the ball hard. The thing that pleases me is that we had nine guys get at least one hit. We spread it around. It was a team effort.''
Grizzlies ace Tim Brown (6-2) worked seven innings to get the win. Wild Things second baseman CJ Beatty hit two home runs -- including a three-run blast in the fifth as Washington (21-19) cut an eight-run Grizzlies lead to 8-5 in the fifth.
Brown wasn't as sharp as normal -- walking a season high three hitters and allowing seven hits. But the veteran did the job.
"Tim wasn't sharp. But you know what? He battled and he gave up five runs. He pitched well enough,'' Warren said.
DeJesus then made it 9-5 in the bottom of the fifth and Landon Hernandez added an RBI hit in the sixth to give Gateway a five-run lead.
The Grizzlies then scored four runs in the seventh inning. Pair highlighted the uprising with his two-run home run.
Looking to get back on track after dropping two of three games against Florence during the weekend, Gateway got out to a quick start against Wild Things starter Shawn Sanford.
With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Jose Flores walked and McClendon followed with his double which ended up in the Wild Things bullpen, allowing Flores to score all the way from first base as Gateway took a 1-0 lead.
Sanford then struck out Landon Hernandez for the second out, but Butler followed when he hit a 2-1 pitch over the right-centerfield fence for a 3-0 Gateway lead.
Three pitches later, Myers increased the lead to 4-0 with his 11th home run of the season.
Gateway added four more runs in the second inning off Sanford who allowed eight runs and nine hits in 1 1/3 innings of work
McClendon had the big hit of the inning -- a two-run double -- while Landon Hernandez and Butler added RBI singles for the Grizzlies who built an 8-0 lead.
The Wild Things-Grizzlies series continues on Wednesday and Thursday with special 6:05 p.m. starts. Fourth of July fireworks displays will follow both nights. ... After the homestand ends, Gateway travels north Friday for the first game of a three-game series at Normal.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com