The Normal CornBelters (32-33) topped the Gateway Grizzlies (27-37) 9-3 Sunday night at the Corn Crib. Normal's win keeps the CornBelters perfect against Gateway this season 8-0.
Normal gained its first lead in the 5th as Alexander singled home Brandon Newton, giving the CornBelters a 4-3 lead. The CornBelters opened up the flood gates an inning later. Mobbs and Keeble connected for back-to-back doubles, to put Normal ahead 5-3. Keeble would score on a sac fly from pinch-hitter AJ Miller. Two batters later, Newton added another double to plate Barbaro giving the CornBelters a 7-3 lead. Alexander continued the offense with a single to bring home McNeely and Newton for two more runs.. Normal ended the 6th ahead 9-3 as the team batted 5-for-6 with runners in scoring position during the frame.
CornBelter starter Ryan Sheldon (W, 7-5) worked 6.2 innings of three-run baseball, striking out seven and walking five. Gateway starter Andres Caceres Jr. (L, 1-1) went four innings and gave up four runs, three of them earned. Normal also had 2.1 innings of relief from Donald Furrow who struck out three and gave up just one hit.
Gateway grabbed the game's first lead in the 3rd inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Logan Parker trickled a single through the right side of the infield to give the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead.
Normal got on the board that same inning. Daniel Cox hit a one-hopper to Tyler Heil, but an errant throw from the Grizzlie third baseman allowed Tyler McNeely to score and cut the Gateway lead 2-1.
The Grizzlies came back with an unearned run of their own in the 4th. Brandon Peters hit a leadoff double and came around to score on a throwing error by Steve Alexander putting Gateway ahead by two again 3-1.
After two leadoff walks to Asif Shah and Mike Mobbs, the CornBelters threatened in the bottom of the 4th. Tyler Keeble bunted Shah and Mobbs over one bag each and Andrew Barbaro singled home Shah to cut into the Gateway lead. A wild pitch by Caceres brought Mobbs home to tie the game 3-3.
Normal will look to complete the sweep Monday night at the Corn Crib at 7 p..m. Ryan Juarez (2-1, 6.10) will head to the mound for Gateway as Matt Mossey (1-0, 4.50) will throw for Normal.