The Normal CornBelters got a boost Thursday night from the two newest hitters in the lineup, as A.J. Miller hit a walk-off double to score Tyler McNeely for a 3-2 win over the ThunderBolts. With the win, Normal moves to 25-20 with three games to play before the All-Star break.
In a 2-2 tie, Windy City stranded the go-ahead run at third in the top of the ninth. In the bottom half, McNeely reached on a fielder's choice, and scored from first on Miller's double. Windy City reliever Greg Johnson (L, 3-1) recorded two outs before surrendering the winning run. Normal's Marshall Schuler (W, 1-0) and Donald Furrow combined for four scoreless innings of relief work.
Michael Click pitched five innings in his first start for Normal, allowing four hits and one earned run in a no-decision. Matt Jernstad struck out eight CornBelters over eight innings, also recording a no-decision.
The teams traded runs in the first inning, as Windy City jumped out to an early lead with a sac fly from Zach Aakhus that scored Brandon Anderson. Normal answered back with a ground rule double from Brad Agustin followed by an RBI single from Frank Martinez.
The CornBelters took the lead 2-1 in the third when Martinez picked up his second RBI of the night, a fielder's choice that brought home Alvaro Ramirez.
After allowing the sac fly to Aakhus in the first, Click cruised through the Windy City lineup, retiring nine of the next ten hitters. Aakhus ended Click's hot streak in the fourth, reaching on an error and scoring on a Chad Cregar groundout to tie the game 2-2.
Windy City threatened against Furrow in the seventh, when Ryan Basham and Larry Pempek reached on consecutive singles with one out. Dale Swinford then hit a soft line drive behind second base, but was robbed on a diving catch by Normal shortstop Tyler Keeble for the second out. After Anderson walked to load the bases, Furrow forced Mike Torres to ground out to Keeble to end the inning. Normal also put two runners aboard in its half of the seventh, but Jernstad was able to work around a hit batter and single to keep the game tied.
Click pitched five innings and recorded a no-decision, with four hits and one earned run allowed. Jernstad also picked up a no-decision, striking out eight CornBelters over eight innings.
Normal continues the homestand Friday with game one of a three-game set against the Joliet Slammers. The CornBelters will send Ryan Sheldon (5-3, 2.89) to the mound against Joliet?s Ryan Miller (0-3, 5.16) for a 7 p.m. start at the Corn Crib.