June 26, 2017 - Frontier League (FL) - River City Rascals
The River City Rascals (19-20) jumped on the Normal CornBelters (20-19) for four runs in the first three innings and kept the offense going throughout the night to win the series finale, 8-6, Sunday evening at CarShield Field.
In total, the Rascals tallied 12 hits and Jason Merjano and Mike Jurgella led the way with three each.
Merjano's first hit came in the opening frame against CornBelters starter Julio Vivas and it drove in Jimmy Kerrigan from third to score the Rascals first run of the night.
The RBI tied the game at one and then with the bases loaded and one out, Braxton Martinez dribbled one up the middle that drove in a run but did cause Mike Jurgella to be retired at the second base bag on a fielder's choice.
The two run opening frame was the second consecutive night that the Rascals scored multiple runs in their first opportunity and this time they made sure they held onto it with southpaw Dan Ludwig on the mound.
After allowing the run on a RBI single in the opening frame, Ludwig held the opponent scoreless up until the seventh inning.
Part of Ludwig's success came due to having a lead as Mike Jurgella stroked a two-run round tripper in the third inning to put his team out in front by three runs. The long ball was his fifth of the year and he trails Braxton Martinez by one for the team lead.
Jurgella would strike once more in the fifth inning with a two-out RBI double to score Merjano and take a 5-1 lead against Vivas in what would be his final inning.
"I thought that our lineup did a great job of making an adjustment compared to last time out and we came out and had a great day today," Jurgella said.
In the loss, Vivas allowed five runs, earned, on eight hits and struck out six. The defeat was his third of the year.
The first reliever of the night for Normal was lefty Kyle Carter and he allowed three runs, two earned in two innings of action.
Jason Merjano notched his third hit of the game in the sixth inning that drove in RJ Thompson to extend the Rascals lead to 6-1 and then the final two runs for the home team came in the seventh on a two RBI double from Clint Freeman giving him RBI number 22 and 23 on the year.
The three hit game for Merjano marked his fourth of the year, which is tied for Mike Jurgella in that category.
On the other side of things, Nomal got their final run against Ludwig in the top of the seventh after three hits, including a RBI double off the bat of Jesus Solorzono.
Earning his third win of the year, Ludwig lasted 6.2 innings and allowed two runs, earned, on ten scattered hits and struck out four.
"With the wind conditions that we had today, the best I could do was fill up the zone to the best of my ability and get ahead of all the hitters," Ludwig said. "I was able to do that and keep the ball down in the zone and get more ground balls than fly balls."
Nick Kennedy relieved him and allowed a three-run home run to Brian Hakes in the eighth and then despite giving up a solo home run in the ninth to Miguel Torres, Cody Mincey earned his first save of the year in a Rascals uniform.
The victory avoided the Rascals being swept for the first time all year and they look to pick up back-to-back wins as they host the Gateway Grizzlies for a rare Monday night contest.
"We have been playing hard and things haven't been coming easy for us. For us to come out and get on top was huge," Jurgella said. "Ludwig did a great job after that and then our bullpen came in and finished it off."