Slammers come from behind to hand sixth straight loss to CornBelters
The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, had a thin lead until the seventh inning, when the Joliet Slammers scored twice and made it hold up to take a 2-1 win and give the Belters their sixth straight loss on Sunday night at Silver Cross Field in Joliet. The loss coupled with a win by the Florence Freedom drops the CornBelters to fourth in the Frontier League West Division.
The CornBelters struck first in the second with a run when Asif Shah singled to lead off the inning, moved to second on a walk, then scored when Tyler Keeble's base hit was misplayed in left field.
The Slammers finally pushed a runner to third base in the fourth inning with runners on second and third with one out, but Normal starter Ryan Sheldon was able to coax a broken bat pop-up and a ground out to end the inning.
Joliet reached Ryan Sheldon in the seventh to take a 2-1 lead. Sheldon hit leadoff batter Sean Estand with a pitch, and Kyle Maunus sacrificed him to second. With two outs, Bobby Leeper hit a 3-2 pitch off the base of the left-field wall to tie the game, then Leeper scored on a triple to right-center to give the Slammers the lead and chase Sheldon from the game. Reliever Marshall Schuler then struck out Josh Flores to retire the Slammers.
The Belters didn't go without a fight, loading the bases in the ninth with two outs via a walk to A.J. Miller, a double from Alvaro Ramirez and a walk to Frank Martinez, but Daniel Cox struck out to end the game. The CornBelters mustered only five hits off Joliet pitching and stranded 11 baserunners. The Belters also committed three errors.
Jeremy Tietze took the win in relief to improve to 3-1. Ryan Sheldon fell to 5-3 with the loss, in which he scattered eight hits while walking one and striking out seven.
The series and the road trip concludes on Independence Day Monday at Silver Cross Field in Joliet as right-handers are again expected to get the call on the mound, Tyler Lavigne (2-5, 3.29) for the CornBelters and Jake Renshaw (4-2, 3.83) for the Slammers. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with pre-game at 6:50 on WEZC-FM 95.9 and WJBC.com. The CornBelters then begin a six-game homestand before the Frontier League All-Star game break with three games each against the Windy City ThunderBolts and the Joliet Slammers. Tuesday is the second annual Armed Forces Night at the Corn Crib with more than 1,100 past and present members of the armed forces attending for free thanks to many local sponsors. The evening will feature many events with a patriotic theme, the Fifty American Flags Memorial around the park and a special rendition of God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch. Game time is 7 p.m. on Tuesday, and gates open at 6 p.m. at the Corn Crib.