West turns in strong start in Grizzlies rout of Boomers

News-DemocratJune 27, 2014 

— Pitching with an early lead, Ja'Vaun West never wavered from his game plan Thursday at GCS Ballpark.

West allowed six hits in eight shutout innings and Niko Vasquez keyed the Gateway offense with a three-run home run as the Grizzlies ran their winning streak to four with a 7-0 win over Schaumburg.

With a steady rain falling throughout the first three innings, the Grizzlies got RBIs from TJ Bennett and Michael Johnson to take a 2-0 lead.

That cushion was more than enough for West (5-1), who struck out eight and threw just 94 pitches.

Tyler Thompson pitched a scoreless ninth inning for Gateway, which notched its fourth shutout of the season.

But the story was West, who was aided by some solid defense and timely hitting.

"I don't know if it's any easier, but it does make me more confident knowing that I'm pitching with the lead and to contact,'' West said. "It makes me feel like I don't have to strike everybody out. I can just worry about getting that first pitch to contact and then getting back into the dugout.

"I had real good slider tonight. My changup is usually my best pitch and I don't know if they were sitting on it tonight or what. But my slider was working well.''

Johnson, making his Grizzlies' debut, and Madison Beaird, had two hits apiece and Vasquez turned a three-run Gateway lead into 6-0 with his three run homer to highlight a four-run fifth.

Johnson and outfielder Kale Kiser were signed Wednesday, after both were released by the Chicago White Sox.

The win lifts the West-Division leading Gateway (25-13) to 19-4 at GCS Ballpark and the three-game sweep was the Grizzlies third of the season.

Schaumburg starter Cal Bowling retired the first six Grizzlies before running into trouble in the third inning.

Ben Waldrip walked to lead off and went to third on a single by Beaird.

Beaird advanced to second on a throwing error by Boomers center fielder Alexi Colon.

Waldrip scored on ground out by Bennett. Colon later tallied when Johnson notched his first hit as a Grizzlie, making it 2-0.

West was impressive in the first three innings, breezing through the Boomers' batting order while striking out three.

Schaumburg did threaten in the top of the fourth, when Jordan Dean led off with a double and Sean Mehley reached on a bunt single, putting runners at the corners with no outs.

But West didn't give in, striking out Justin Vasquez and Gerard Hall before getting Mark Nelson to ground out to end the inning.

The Grizzlies put the game away with their four-run fifth inning, which was highlighted by Vasquez' three-run homer.

Beaird and Bennett started the uprising with one-out singles.

Johnson followed with his second straight hit, scoring Beaird to make it 3-0.

Bowling got Kiser for the second out, but Vasquez followed with his second home run of the season, which came on an 0-2 pitch and sailed over the wall in right.

West worked out of a mild jam in the fifth and later had his shutout bid preserved on a great sliding catch by Beaird in right with two runners on in the seventh.

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