Late blast grounds Grizzlies

News-DemocratAugust 24, 2013 

— The Windy City ThunderBolts used a little late-inning lightning to keep the Gateway Grizzlies plummeting on Saturday at GCS Ballpark.

Evan Button hit a one-out home run off Grizzlies reliever Richard Barrett in the top of the ninth inning as Windy City edged Gateway 4-3 before a crowd of 4,938 fans.

The loss is the fifth straight and 10th in the last 11 games for Gateway (46-40), which finds itself a game behind Southern Illinois in the battle for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Frontier League playoffs.

The Grizzlies have 10 games remaining, with even of them at GCS Ballpark. But despite still being in the playoff hunt, Gateway manager Phil Warren was almost at a loss for words following his team's latest setback.

"I don't really know what to say. On a night when we got the pitching and defense, our offense let us down," Warren said. "Looking at our lineup, we've got two guys who are hitting over .275 and tonight we left 10 guys on base. The offense is the momentum changer and we didn't get it done tonight.''

Gateway third baseman Chris McClendon's seventh-inning run-scoring single --his third hit of the game -- scored Jose Flores as the Grizzlies forged a 3-3 tie after seven innings.

In command of the West Division race on July 31, Gateway has endured a nightmarish August, which has seen it go 6-15.

But getting a solid six-inning stint from All-Star pitcher Ja'Vaun West, Gateway seemed to have a chance of ending its slide.

West (7-4), making his first start since August 1 because of shoulder stiffness, allowed solo home runs to Chad Cregar and Andrew Brauer, but little else and left with the score tied 2-2 after six innings.

Gateway also used the home run to score its first two runs, Michael Wing and Jose Flores both going deep off Windy City starter Brian Oliver.

Windy City (43-43) took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh, when Evan Button scored on a passed ball by Gateway catcher Landon Hernandez.

Wing gave the large turnout something to cheer about early, when he took an 0-1 pitch from Oliver over the left-field wall for a 1-0 Gateway lead.

Brauer tied the game in the top of the second with a solo home run and thanks to the clutch pitching of West, the game remained tied until the fifth.

Red hot in August with a mark of 14-7, the ThunderBolts loaded the bases with one out in the fourth on singles by Zach Aakhus ad Doug Joyce and a walk to Jayce Ray.

But West got out of the jam by striking out Chase Tucker and getting Evan Button to ground out to second baseman Jonathan Johnson.

Cregar put Windy City up 2-1 with his solo home run in top of the fifth, before Flores led off the bottom of the inning with a home run, which tied the game at 2.

The Grizzlies also wasted several early scoring chances as it stranded six runners -- four in scoring position -- in the first five innings.

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