SAUGET — After a rare off night, the Gateway Grizzlies simply got back on track on Tuesday evening at GCS Ballpark.
Tucker Jensen pitched eight strong innings while Jonathan Johnson hit a solo home run and scored three times as Gateway delighted a sparse but enthusiastic turnout of 1,923 with a win over 9-2 win over the Frontier Greys.
Entering the game with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League's West Division, Gateway (39-24) also got a pair of RBI each from Chris McClendon, Antone DeJesus and Vladimir Frias as they clinched another series.
Gateway, which also got a two-run home run from catcher Landon Hernandez, has now won 15 of 21 series during the 2013 season.
Struggling with his control early when he walked three and hit a batter in his first 2 2/3 innings, Jensen (6-4) settled down in the middle innings. Working out of a pair of jams, Jensen was rolling along with a three hit shutout until the eighth when an Eric Avila two-run home run broke up his shutout bid.
"Tucker was trying to be a little to fine early in the game. Once he settled in, he just threw strikes and we played good defense behind him,'' Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. "Jonathan (Johnson), I thought had a good game for us. He played well defensively and I thought gave us a lift when he walked in the first, stole second and third and scored on sacrifice fly. It was a good effort.''
Jensen allowed five hits, struck out three and walked four while throwing 123 pitches -- 77 for strikes -- in his eight inning stint.
The win comes 24 hours after an 8-2 loss to Frontier (24-39) on Monday. The Greys play all their games on the road.
The Grizzlies didn't get their first hit until Hernandez singled with two outs in the third inning off Greys starter Jonathan Koutnis, but still led 2-0 thanks to the speed of Johnson.
Johnson walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning and stole second and third base. McClendon then made it 1-0 when his sacrifice fly scored Johnson.
The Greys threatened in the second inning as they loaded the bases with one out.
Brock McCalister then bunted the ball in front of the plate where Jensen made the play and threw to Hernandez for a force at the plate.
Jensen then Esteban Meletchie then flew out to leftfielder Jon Myers to retire the side.
Johnson, hitting just .241 entering the game, used his speed in the third inning to give Gateway a 2-0 lead.
With one out, Koutnis walked Johnson who then went to second on a wild pitch. Jose Flores then walked to put runners on first and second base.
McClendon then hit a slow roller and Flores was forced at second base, but Johnson, running hard all the way, scored all the way from second base to make the score 2-0.
Henandez increased the lead to 4-0 with his two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth and Gateway put the game away with its five run outburst in the seventh.
The Grizzlies will make the 280-mile trek to Rockford on Wednesday morning where they will take on the Riverhawks in a doubleheader beginning at 6:05 p.m. ... Gateway will then play single games in Rockford on Thursday and Friday before returning to the friendly confines of GCS Ballpark on Saturday to host the always tough River City Rascals in the opener of a three-game series beginning at 7:05 p.m.