Flores' blast powers Grizzlies to 9-7 victory over Wild Things

News-DemocratJuly 4, 2013 

— A crowd of 7,611, the third largest in franchise history, jammed into GCS Ballpark on Thursday to watch the Gateway Grizzlies defeat the Washington Wild Things 9-7, followed by a fireworks display.

And it was Grizzlies first baseman Jose Flores who lit the final fuse.

Flores hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to provide the difference as the Grizzlies thrilled the overflow crowd.

Trailing 7-6 following a go-ahead home run by Washington's Joe Rosa in the seventh inning, Gateway rallied in the bottom of the eighth.

With reliever Amalio Diaz on the mound, Gateway's Spiker Helms led off with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt from Jonathan Johnson.

Flores then crushed the next pitch from Diaz over the right-field wall, as the large crowd erupted.

Jon Myers added an insurance tally later in the inning, and when Richard Barrett retired the side in the ninth, Gateway had its 600th win in history.

The Grizzlies are in their 13th year in the Frontier League.

"Another huge win. It's like a microcosm of our season. Somebody always steps up and comes up with the big hit. Tonight, it was Jose who came up big,'' Gateway manager Phil Warren said. "Spiker had a great at-bat, J.J. (Johnson) made a great bunt and then Jose hit it out.

"And there was no doubt about it. That ball was crushed.''

The largest crowd in franchise history was 8,189 on Sept. 4, 2011.

The series sweep was the second of a nine-game homestand for Gateway (28-13), which also swept Evansville before dropping two of three games against Florence.

Now 18-7 at GCS Ballpark in 2013, Gateway has swept five series this season.

Zac Treece (5-0) was the winning pitcher, while Barrett picked up his 10th save.

Gateway wasted little time in jumping on Wild Things starter Shawn Blackwell for a pair of runs in the first inning.

Johnson drew a lead-off walk and after Jose Flores popped out, Blackwell walked Chris McClendon on four pitches.

Hernandez then gave his team the lead when he lined a single through the hole between first and second.

McClendon went to third on the play and later scored when Jet Butler hit into a fielder's choice.

The game featured the Grizzlies' debut of pitcher Matt Sergey, who was acquired this week. The 23-year-old Sergey worked five innings, giving up three runs.

A former 45th-round draft choice of the Milwaukee Brewers, in 2007, who went on to play at and graduate from Campbell University, Sergey was 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in 16 appearances with the Southern Illinois Miners this season.

Sergey gave up four hits, but Hernandez threw out a runner attempting to steal second and the Grizzlies infield turned a double play in the third inning.

Max Ayarza made it 3-0 Gateway in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single. But the Wild Things tied in the top of the fifth.

Shain Stoner made it 3-1 with a one-out solo home. Jim Vahalik then reached first when Hernandez was charged with a passed ball on a strike out.

One out later, Jim Buccilli tied it with a two-run homer to right field.

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