The Normal CornBelters (25-23), presented by the Illinois Corn Farmers could not avoid the sweep to the Joliet Slammers (27-20), as they fell 8-6 Sunday night at the Corn Crib. Normal starter Bobby Pritchett (L 5-3) was touched up by two Joliet home runs in the final game before the All-Star break.
The Slammers started the scoring early as they tacked on a pair of runs in the first. Josh Flores tripled home Trey Manz who reached on a walk to give Joliet a 1-0 lead. Erik Lis then singled home Flores to put Joliet ahead 2-0.
An inning later, the CornBelters battled back to even the score. With two on and two out, A.J. Miller and Alvaro Ramirez connected for back-to-back singles, driving home Mike Mobbs and Jeff Dunbar to tie the game 2-2.
Joliet took those runs back and more in the 3rd thanks to a Kyle Maunus home run. After Prtichett allowed Flores and Lis to reach base, Maunus lined a shot over Mobbs' head and the left field wall for a three-run homer giving Joliet a 5-2 lead.
The offense sparked for Normal in the 4th as Jeff Dunbar and Tyler Keeble reached on a single and double to lead off the inning. An infield single by Miller and an errant throw by Joliet's John Wagle allowed both Dunbar and Keeble to score. The Belters threatened to plate more with the bases loaded and none out, but the heart of the order failed to produce as Daniel Cox struck out and Steven Alexander grounded into a double play securing the Slammers lead 5-4.
The Slammers struck again in the 5th when Flores drew a leadoff walk and Lis blasted a two-run shot giving Joliet a 7-4 lead and forcing Prtichett out of the game. One-half inning later, Asif Shah drove a 1-2 pitch out of the park, a solo blast to cut the Joliet lead to 7-5.
Neither team would score again until the bottom of the 8th when Alexander's bloop single scored Cox to bring the Belters within one at 7-6.
Normal's bullpen held the Slammers scoreless for 3 2/3 innings until Liam Ohlmann surrendered a two-out single to David Fox scoring Flores and providing Joliet an 8-6 lead in the 9th. Frontier League save leader Ryan Quigley retired Normal in order in the ninth inning to pick up his 16th save of the year.
Prtichett went 4 1/3 innings giving up seven earned runs, two walks, and striking out three. Petrick (W 4-6) worked five frames, giving up as many earned runs, and allowed one walk.
Normal will send five players to the 2011 Frontier League All-Star game in Lake Erie on Wednesday, July 13. Asif Shah, Alvaro Ramirez, Steven Alexander, Tyler Keeble, and Ryan Sheldon will represent the CornBelters at All Pro Freight Stadium. The team will reunite Friday in Evansville to take on the Otters.