The Gateway Grizzlies bullpen allowed a late lead to slip away as the Joliet Slammers scored two runs a piece in the seventh and eighth innings to score an 8-7 win at Silver Cross Field.
With the Grizzlies leading 6-4 in the seventh, Jordan Wellander allowed an unearned run and then a game-tying RBI double from Carter Bell to pull the Slammers even at 6-6.
In the eighth, Nate Carter (0-1) gave up a two-RBI single to Charlie White as Joliet took an 8-6 lead. Gateway’s offense would respond with a run in the top half of the ninth against Joliet closer Kevin McNorton, but they left the tying run in scoring position to end the game.
The Grizzlies (9-11) sent Vince Molesky to the mound for his fourth start of the season. He allowed a three-run blast to Bell in the first as Joliet jumped on top, 3-0.
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Gateway’s offense struck back in the top half of the second against Joliet starter Luke Crumley with Seth Heck’s RBI single. In the third, the Grizzlies rallied for three runs on four hits. Heck’s second run-scoring base hit gave the Grizzlies a 4-3 lead. Gateway tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-3 edge.
The Slammers (9-11) got a tally back against Molesky in the fifth on a solo homer from Boo Vasquez that made it 6-4.
After RHP Marc Rutledge gave up just two runs in four innings out of the bullpen, he gave way to RHP Tyler Levine (1-0). The righty pitched a scoreless eighth, which kept the game tied at 6-6. McNorton picked up his third save of the season while allowing a lone run in the ninth.
In a bright spot, the Grizzlies offense bounced back after a quiet series at Lake Erie with 14 hits. Five different players had at least two hits.
Gateway and Joliet continue their three-game series on Saturday evening at Silver Cross Field. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. The game can be heard on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs Saturday on 1400 AM KJFF, 94.3 FM/1570 AM WBGZ, and online at www.GatewayGrizzlies.com/Radio. Sam Levitt will broadcast the game.