The Gateway Grizzlies fell 4-3 in the 2016 season opener to the Washington Wild Things at GCS Ballpark on Friday night.
St. Louis Cardinals legend Willie McGee was one of the 5,027 in attendance at the ballpark and threw out a ceremonial first pitch to delight the fans.
Avistion native Trevor Richards got the opening night start for Gateway and held Washington hitless through the game’s first four innings. Wild Things right-hander Trevor Foss matched Richards, as he allowed just two hits in four scoreless frames to start the game.
In the fifth, Washington struck against Richards. David Popkins led off the inning with a double and Richards then walked Scott Carcaise with one out to put a pair of runners on base. Kyle Pollock then blooped a single to center that scored Popkins, while Jamal Austin followed with an RBI single of his own to make it 2-0. Washington scratched another run across to pull ahead 3-0.
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The Grizzlies responded with a run in the bottom half of the fifth. Brandon Thomas singled with one out and was driven home on a run-scoring base hit by Logan Davis. Both hits were the first in Gateway uniforms for Thomas and Davis.
The score remained 3-1 until the eighth, when Jimmy Mezzo picked up an RBI single to give Washington a 4-1 edge.
In the ninth, the Grizzlies loaded the bases with no outs against Wild Things reliever Andrew Woeck. Davis then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, which scored a run. With a runner on third and two outs, Cody Livesay picked up his first RBI with a single to make it 4-3. Woeck struck out Seth Heck, who represented the winning run, to end the ball game.
Andrew Eggnatz was a huge bright spot for Gateway, as he replaced Richards in the fifth and would go on to throw 2 1/3 scoreless frames in his professional debut on the hill.
The Grizzlies and Wild Things play the second game of their three-game set on Saturday night in the friendly confines of GCS Ballpark. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
The Grizzlies send right-hander Will Landsheft to the mound while Washington counters with southpaw Connor Kendrick.
The game can be head on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs on 1400 AM KJFF, 94.3 FM/1570AM WBGZ, and online at Gateway