A frustrating road trip ended on a positive note as the Normal CornBelters exploded offensively early and late, breaking a six-game losing streak and defeating the Joliet Slammers on Monday night at Silver Cross Field in Joliet.
The CornBelters got to work immediately with a two-run first inning. With one out, Frank Martinez reached on an infield error and moved to second on a base hit by Daniel Cox. Both moved up a base on a wild pitch, but Asif Shah was walked intentionally to load the bases. Mike Mobbs then singled up the middle to score Martinez and Cox to stake the Belters to a 2-0 lead.
The Belters couldn't reach Joliet starter Jake Renshaw for a while as the Slammer hurler retired 14 straight hitters, but Normal blasted through in the seventh. The CornBelters started the seventh with a Mike Mobbs double, a Jeff Dunbar single and a base hit by Tyler Keeble to score Mobbs and increase the Belters lead to 3-0. Brad Agustin sacrifice the runners to second and third, and Alvaro Ramirez singled past the drawn-in infield to score Dunbar and build the lead to 4-0, and end the night for Renshaw. A ground-out by Frank Martinez scored Keeble, then Daniel Cox served a 3-2 pitch to right field to plate Ramirez. Steve Alexander then singled, and a wild pitch sent him and Cox to second and third, and Asif Shah drove in Cox with a base hit. Mike Mobbs finished the scoring with his third RBI of the night with a hit to shallow center to score Alexander to give Normal an 8-0 lead going into the seventh-inning stretch.
Tyler Lavigne picked up the win to improve to 3-5, giving up just three hits in his seven-inning outing while walking four and striking out eight. Jake Renshaw was tagged with the loss to fall to 4-3.
The CornBelters begin a six-game homestand on Tuesday night on the second annual Armed Forces Night against the Windy City ThunderBolts. Right-handers are scheduled to start on the mound, with Bryant Cotton (3-2, 5.58) for the ThunderBolts and Bobby Pritchett (4-2, 4.50) for the CornBelters.