O’FALLON, MO. — The Arch Nemesis is here, and the Gateway Grizzlies must hate it.
It would sure make sense if they did, because on their third straight night with a chance to sample the River City Rascals’ tasty new concession stand item at T.R. Hughes Ballpark on Friday, the home team probably made the crosstown visitors want to spit it up, after rallying for the third time in a row, to win in its last at-bat.
Wednesday night, it was a two-run single by Kyle Jones that won the game for the Rascals; Thursday night, it was a solo home run in the 11th inning by Charlie Lisk that earned River City the win; and on Friday, it was Chris Andreas’ turn to break Gateway’s heart.
And he did so with a two-run bomb into the trees beyond the right-field wall at T.R. Hughes, off Gateway closer and former Rascal Richard Barrett, in the bottom of the ninth inning, to lift the River City to a dramatic 6-5 victory over the Grizzlies.
Gateway, which came into this series with the Rascals with a 16-14 record, slipped to 16-17, after getting swept all three games, while River City, which has now won four games in a row, moved back into a first-place tie in the Frontier League West Division with the Schaumburg Boomers, with a 20-13 record.
Reliever Justin Gill, one of four bullpen pitchers the Rascals employed behind starter Jason Sullivan on Friday, pitched a scoreless top of the ninth to get the win.
Barrett, whose had a fine season for Gateway, took the loss, after blowing his second straight save against River City.
The Grizzlies seemed in prime position to salvage a win against the Rascals, when they took a 5-1 lead after the top of the fifth inning.
But in the bottom half of that inning, River City’s Curran Redal, a rookie from tiny Liberty University in Virginia, blasted his second home run of the season off Gateway starter Ja’Vaun West, to pull the Rascals to within 5-3.
Then in the eighth, Bobby Burk scored from third as teammate Ben Hewett was thrown out trying to steal second.
That made the score 5-4, and after an easy ninth inning for Gill, the stage was set for a potentially exciting bottom of the ninth.
Lisk led off for the Rascals, and reached on an error by Grizzlies shortstop Kenton Parmley.
The River City third baseman then advanced to second on a wild pitch, but stayed there, as Jeremy Synan, who extended his hitting streak to 22 games with a single in the fifth, popped out to Gateway third baseman Chris McClendon.
That brought Andreas to the plate, who had been 0-for-4 on the night and was hitting under .230 on the season.
But on an 0-2 pitch that caught too much of the plate, the Rascals rookie from Sam Houston State, blasted a drive deep into the night to give River City its third consecutive last at-bat win.
Gateway will now head back home to GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., for three straight games against the Southern Illinois Miners, on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
River City will close out its current six-game homestand with a three-game set at T.R. Hughes against the Normal CornBelters.
Saturday night’s ballgame will begin at 7:05 p.m., while Sunday night’s contest will start at 6:05 p.m.
On Monday though, the Rascals will host their very popular “Super Splash Day”, where T.R. Hughes Ballpark will be transformed into a waterpark, where every fan in attendance “can expect to get soaked.”