Chirino Leads Belters to Eighth Straight Victory
NORMAL, Ill. - The Normal CornBelters (41-32) used a three-run eighth to continue their season-high win streak (8) in a 7-4 victory over the River City Rascals (38-39) on Friday night.
"We are playing good baseball right now. We didn't hit very well with runners in scoring position with two outs tonight until Chirino had that big hit late in the game tonight. Our guys are very resilient. Davison Jr struck out his first three at-bats, he said so what, no big deal. Showed his true character and true mark of a pro," said Manager Billy Horn.
The Belters broke the 4-4 tie in the eighth. Cody Erickson reached on a one-out single, and then came all around to score after the River City catcher made a throwing error on a Michael Baca bunt to give Normal their first lead of the game, 5-4. Santiago Chirino followed a James Davison Jr walk with his third of the night to push the CornBelters ahead 7-4 and give the Belters their ninth straight victory at home and eighth in a row.
Thomas Nicoll (1-0) earned his first professional victory in a dominating fashion. The first year Belter pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth in his tenth appearance. Nicoll concluded his night by striking out the side in his final frame of work to maintain his 0.00 ERA. He now has 17 strikeouts in 14.1 innings this season.
Jess Amedee threw a perfect ninth and only needed 10 pitches to earn his first save in just his second game as Belter and secure the ninth straight win at the Corn Crib.
For the sixth game in a row, Normal scored in the first. Chirino and Derrick Loveless knocked back-to-back doubles to make it 3-1. Chirino's 105th career double also continued his home consecutive on base (21) and hit streak (26) the longest by any Belter this season.
Both teams again continued to match another in the second this time with the long ball. River City led off with a home run and Sean Hurley smoked his first home run at the Corn Crib to make it a one-run ballgame, 4-3.
Normal tied in the sixth. Erickson moved Justin Fletcher and Hurley to second and third on a successful sac bunt. Then Baca did his part and tied it 4-4 on a sac fly.
Nick Bozman struggled out of the gates as he found himself with the bases loaded in the first. River City used a double and sacrifice fly to jump out to a 3-0 lead then made it 4-1 in the second on a solo shot. After that, the southpaw was lights out and completed four straight scoreless innings to get a no-decision.
With the win tonight, Normal is now tied with Washington for the best record in the Frontier League and are now 3.5 games up in the West Division. Jacinto Garcia looks to keep the train rolling as he gets the start tomorrow in the possible series clincher against River City. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
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Santiago Chirino of the Normal CornBelters
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