June 25, 2014

Grizzlies bounce mistake-prone Boomers

Gateway's offense got a helping hand from the Schaumburg Boomers on Wednesday night.

The Grizzlies scored two runs on a throwing error and two more on bases-loaded walks as they cruised to a 7-3 win over Schaumburg before a slim crowd of 1,818 at GCS Ballpark.

It was the fourth victory in five games for Gateway, which climbed 11 games above .500 for the first time this season at 24-13, the best record in the Frontier League.

Right-hander Tucker Jensen (5-1) worked seven strong innings and Landon Hernandez had two hits for Gateway, including an RBI single in a three-run seventh that made it 7-2.

"Usually, early on the game I just locate the fastball with changeups here and there --just really attack hitters," said Jensen, who allowed two runs (earned) on four hits. "My game is to locate and change speeds. I was in a little groove until the third inning when I started leaving balls over the plate, but after that, I felt pretty good and started locating more and keeping them off-balanced."

Hernandez, Jensen's catcher, said Jensen can be deceptive with a fastball that has late tumbling action.

That particularly was the case after Schaumburg scored its first two runs in the third. Jensen retired 15 of the final 16 hitters he faced before giving way to Luke Westphal, who worked the eighth and ninth.

Climbing 11 games over .500 is an accomplishment, Hernandez said, but it can't be the motivating factor for the Grizzlies.

"That's good," Hernandez said of the Grizzlies reaching their high-water mark. "But it's more about winning series."

Jensen agreed.

"We have one goal in mine, and that's to win a championship," Jensen said. "To do that, we've got to have streaks like this and just keep going."

Gateway got it going in the first against Schaumburg starter Danny Jimenez (2-2), who yielded a leadoff single to Madison Beaird and then hit Tommy Richards with a pitch. Jimenez induced consecutive popouts, but Michael Wing doubled past third to score Beaird.

Richards, however, tried to push the action and was gunned out at the plate on a strong relay from shortstop Gerard Hall.

Xavier Macklin, Ben Waldrip and Nick Backlund had one-out singles in the second, with Backlund's scoring Macklin to make it 2-0.

Three batters later, Niko Vasquez bounced to third with the bases loaded and was safe at first on Tyler Sciacca's throwing error that swelled the lead to 4-0.

"That's the name of the game, taking advantage of mistakes, and we did that well tonight," Jensen said.

The Boomers climbed within 4-2 in the third, a rally that began with a single by Michael Valadez and a double by Sean Mahley, the Nos. 8 and 9 hitters. Jordan Dean's infield out made it 4-1 and Hall followed with a sacrifice fly to center.

Jimenez allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits in six innings, with one walk and nine strikeouts. From the third through the sixth, the left-hander two baserunners, and he struck out the final four hitters.

But Schaumburg came undone in the seventh with relievers Heith Hatfield and Hunter Ackerman on the mound.

Hatfield allowed Hernandez's RBI single that followed walks to Beaird and Richards, and Ackerman walked three in a row, two coming with the bases loaded.

Roster moves

After the game, the Grizzlies released Backlund and outfielder Ryan Sells. Backlund was batting .133; Sells had received just five at-bats.

To take their places on the rosters, the Grizzlies came to terms with outfielder Kale Kiser and second baseman/shortstop Michael Johnson. Kiser and Johnson were recently released by the Chicago White Sox.

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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