In search of only its third three-game winning streak of the season, a late rally fell short as the Joliet Slammers locked up a win over the Gateway Grizzlies on Wednesday at GCS Ballpark.
Luke Crumley allowed one run in five innings in relief while Nate Roberts and John Cannon had run-scoring hits as Joliet handed the Grizzlies a 3-2 loss in a Frontier League game.
The Slammers (30-43) scored a run in the first inning and added two in the sixth inning off Gateway starter and losing pitcher Vincent Molesky while Gateway (27-45) had few chances against a struggling Slammers pitching staff.
But until the eighth inning, Gateway had only four hits against Slammers starter Michael Carden and Crumley.
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“I actually thought we had some pretty good swings at the starter (Carden),’’ Grizzlies manager Phil Warren said. “But against the reliever (Crumley), I saw a lot of guys take big swings and come up empty.’’
Crumley, who allowed only two hits in five innings of relief, was taken out with one out in the eighth inning in favor of Kevin McNorton who allowed a two-out, two run double to Seth Heck as Gateway cut its deficit to 3-2. But McNorton fanned Massoni to end the threat.
Ben Waldrip then singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth but Navery Moore, the fourth pitcher of the night used by the Slammers, retired the next three hitters to end the game
In a similar situation as the Grizzlies, well out of playoff contention, the Slammers had a 1-0 lead two batters into the game. Molesky, coming off a no decision in his last outing on Aug. 5 at Windy City, gave up a lead-off single to Phil Bates to start the game. Three pitches later, Nate Bates hit a double to the left-center field alley and Bates scored all the way from first base.
Molesky then settled in and allowed just one hit until the sixth inning. Unfortunately, Slammers pitchers Carden and Crumley were a litte bit better on this cool August evening.
Entering the game with a 2-5 record and 5.08 ERA, Carden allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 innings before Grizzlies right fielder Madison Beaird delivered a near knockout blow — literally.
With a 3-1 count, Beaird hit a line drive that hit Carden on the left ear. Staggered, Carden tried to make a play as the ball rolled towards the third base line, but Beaird reached without a throw.
Meanwhile, Carden staggered towards the Slammers dugout as medical and team personnel rushed to check his condition. Holding a towel to his ear, Carden left the field under his own power as Crumley entered the game.
Molesky and Crumley then matched zeros until the sixth inning when the Slammers added to their lead. Joliet loaded the bases with nobody out as Robert was hit by a pitch, Alfredo Rodriguez singled and designated hitter Joe Staley walked on a borderline 3-2 pitch.
Mike Garza then lifted a sacrifice fly ball to make the score 2-0 and one out later, John Cannon singlwed to shallow centerfield to increase the Slammers lead to 3-0.
Molesky (3-5) worked 5 2/3 innings, three runs on five hits, while striking out three and walking two.
Gateway threatened in the seventh inning when Massoni doubled to lead off. But Crumley then struck out the side to end the threat. Crumley worked five innings, striking out seven and allowing justone run
Grizzlies notes: The Slammers-Grizzlies series continues on Wednesday and Thursday with 7:05 p.m. games. Gateway then heads east to battle the Florence Freedom in a three-game series beginning on Friday.
Red hot Grizzlies: Currently 4-4 in August, Gateway has been led by the surging bats of Blake Brown and rookie Seth heck. Brown was hitting .379 with one home run, three doubles and seven RBI’s, while Heck, a former Mississippi State University standout was hitting .321, prior to the game on Tuesday.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle@bnd.com or 618-239-2661.