It may only be two games into the 2015 season, but the Gateway Grizzlies’ bullpen has provided anything but relief.
Rockford second baseman Tanner Witt broke a 2-all tie with a bases-loaded double in the seventh inning and the Aviators went on for a 6-2 win Saturday, before crowd of 2,072 at GCS Ballpark.
One night after the Gateway bullpen allowed four runs over the final three innings in an opening night 6-2 loss, Grizzlies relievers David Murilo and Zach Loraine allowed four runs in a four-run seventh. An outburst which included three walks, Witt’s two-run double, a wild pitch and an RBI single by Teodoro Martinez as Rockford handed Gateway a second-straight home loss.
Gateway (0-2) took its first lead of the season with a two-run fourth inning against Rockford starter Tony Rizzotti, when Rolando Gomez had a sacrifice fly and Ben Waldrip added an RBI single.
But Rockford’s Elijah Trail tied the game with a homer off Gateway starter Tyler Thompson in the top of the fifth.
It stayed that way until the top of the seventh, when the Grizzlies’ bullpen collapsed for the second night in a row.
By contrast, Rockford’s bullpen was flawless for the second-straight game.
Rizzotti worked around a one-out double to Madison Beaird in the first inning and a two-out double to Rolando Gomez in the second. Thompson, in his second season with Gateway, wasn’t as fortunate.
With one out in the second, Aviators designated hitter Greg Velazquez singled and Devon Rodriguiz followed with a single which advanced Velazquez to third. Trail pushed across the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly.
Gateway, after stranding runners in two of the first three innings, pushed two runs across against Rizzotti in the bttom of the fourth.
Beaird reached on an error to lead off and after Blake Brown struck out, Richard Seigel walked and Grant Buckner singled to load the bases.
Gomez tied the game with a sacrifice fly and when Ben Waldrip lined a single to right, Gateway led 2-1.
That lead didn’t last long as Elijah Trail clubbed a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall to lead off the fifth , tying it 2-2.
Thompson was lifted in favor of David Murillo after five innings. Thompson struck out five and walked just one, while allowing only five hits.
No help from Pete
Baseball legend Pete Rose was on hand as part of the opening night festivities Friday, but it didn’t stop Rockford from posting a 6-2 win before a crowd of more than 5,300 on Friday at GCS Ballpark.
Gateway starter JaVaun West worked six strong innings, allowing just two runs and five hits, but the Aviators scored four runs off a pair of Gateway relievers to clinch the win.
The Grizzlies-Aviators series concludes Sunday with a 6:05 p.m. contest. Gateway then begins a six-game road trip Tuesday with the opener of a three-game series at Normal. The Grizzlies will also visit Joliet before returning home Memorial Day, May 25, to take on the Frontier Greys.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.