The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, lost to the Gateway Grizzlies for the first time this season in a 3-2 game Monday night at the Corn Crib. The CornBelters win the series, but fall to 32-34 with the loss, as Gateway improves to 28-37.
The Grizzlies took the decisive lead 3-2 in the 7th inning against CornBelters reliever Jacob Liedka. A leadoff walk to Brian Harris set up an RBI triple from D.J. Fitzgerald with two outs. Normal had the winning run at the plate in the ninth, but could not produce on a night when four double plays hurt the offense.
Starter Ryan Juarez (W, 3-1) scattered seven hits in seven innings, allowing two earned runs and three walks. Liedka (L, 2-1) worked the 7th inning and gave up one walk and one hit. Gateway?s Chris Enourato (S, 7) gave up a leadoff walk in the ninth but forced three fly-outs to end the game. Normal starter Matt Mossey received a no-decision after six innings of work with four hits and two runs allowed.
Gateway scored first for the third consecutive night with a run in the 4th inning. Charlie Lisk walked with one out, and ended up on third following a groundout and wild pitch. Chris Sedon then picked up an infield single that allowed Lisk to score for a 1-0 Grizzlies lead.
Normal quickly took the lead back with three straight hits to lead off the 4th. Tyler McNeely lined a single to left, and Steve Alexander chased him home with an RBI double to right-center. Tied 1-1, Asif Shah dropped a single to right-center that scored Alexander from second base, giving Normal the 2-1 edge. With two runs already in, Normal had the bases loaded and none out, but could not increase the lead.
Fitzgerald got Gateway on the board again in the 5th with a solo home run to left field. The two-out blast was Fitzgerald's second homer of the season and made it a 2-2 ballgame.
Tyler Lavigne (4-7, 3.38) gets the start for Normal in Tuesday's game at the Traverse City Beach Bums. The CornBelters return home on August 9 against the River City Rascals.