The offensive and defensive woes continued to mount for the Gateway Grizzlies on Monday at GCS Ballpark.
And so do the losses.
A costly error by Gateway shortstop Rolando Gomez with one out in the top of the ninth inning allowed the go-ahead run to score as the Frontier Greys extended the Grizzlies losing streak to four with a 4-2 win.
Beginning his second inning, Gateway reliever Scott Harkin allowed a leadoff double in the ninth to the Greys’ Jhiromar Veras who advanced to third base seconds later on a wild pitch. Harkin then walked Scott Carcaise to put runners on first and third with nobody out.
Gateway manager Phil Warren then brought in Brett Zawacki who retired Ben Lodge for the first out of the inning. After Carcaise stole second base to put runners on second and third, Zawacki got Brandon Tierny to hit a ground ball to Gomez, who in his attempt to make a backhand play, saw the ball bounce off his glove allowing both runners to score and gave Frontier a 4-2 lead.
Greys reliever Kyle Schepel, the fourth pitcher used by Frontier manager Vinny Ganz, pitched out a jam in the bottom of the ninth to give the Greys (2-7) the win and send the Grizzlies to their eighth loss in 10 games.
The Grizzlies are now 0-4 at home and entering play Monday, Gateway had the worst record in the Frontier League at 2-8.
“It’s frustrating because we have talent on this team. We’re just not executing. When guys need to come up with a big hit, we’re not getting it. When we need somebody to make a play, we’re not getting it done. In the ninth inning today with runners on second and third, we get the ground ball but it tips off the glove and rolls into the outfield and two runs score,” Warren said. “Then we have a chance in the bottom of the ninth and didn’t get the hit.”
Lost in the setback was the pitching performance of Gateway starter Max Schonfeld who went seven innings. Schonfeld allowed one run on five hits while striking out five. An East Meadow, N.Y. native, Schonfeld allowed a solo home run to Carcaise in the second inning, but thanks to three double plays by the Grizzlies defense, was able to escape further damage.
Schonfeld left the game with the lead. Gomez tied the game at 1 with a solo home run in the third inning and Ben Waldrip put the Grizzlies up 2-1 with a tape-measured home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. The home run, which came on a 1-2 pitch, sailed over well over the rightfield wall and out of GCS Ballpark.
“I think the diffence for me today was being able to get all of my pitches over and get ahead in the counts,” Schonfeld said. “We’re going to be alright. We just need to relax a little more. There’s just too much talent in the clubhouse for us not to be successful.”
Gateway did nothing in the first three innings against Frontier starter Jordan Kraus who retired nine of the first 10 hitters. But after striking out Shawn Payne to start the fourth,. the Grizzlies offense showed signs of life.
Gomez, hitting a team leading .357 entering play on Monday, took a 1-2 pitch over the rightfield fence to tie the game at 1.
Perhaps a bit shaken, Kraus then hit Grant Buckner with a pitch and Richard Seigel hit a line drive into the left-centerfield alley. Frontier centerfielder Ben Lodge picked the ball up off the warning track and threw to shortstop Fransicso Rosario whose relay throw to the plate was in time to get a sliding Buckner at the plate.
The game on Monday began a week-long homestand for the Grizzlies. Gateway will take on the Florence Freedom in a three game series beginning on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. The Washington Wild Things invade GCS Ballpark for a three-gane set beginning on Friday.
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.