Using a big fifth inning to break up a pitchers' duel, the Normal CornBelters evened up the series with the West Division-leading River City Rascals with a 9-3 win on Wednesday night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Missouri.
The CornBelters put the first run on the board in the third inning. A.J. Miller drew a one-out walk and went to third on an Alvaro Ramirez double, then scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Brandon Newton.
The Rascals got the run back right away in the bottom of the third with a lead-off double from Bobby Burk, who went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground out by Eric Williams.
The Belters batted around with five runs in the sixth to take a 6-1 lead. Alvaro Ramirez led off with a double and went to third on a fielder's choice from Frank Martinez, who then stole second. Asif Shah singled both home to give Normal a 3-1 lead. Shah moved to second on a wild pitch and was singled home by Mark Samuelson, which ended the night for Rascals starter Don Lisi for reliever Kenny Arnerich. Samuelson went to third on a base hit from Daniel Cox, and an Arnerich balk scored Samuelson. Mike Mobbs singled to score Cox and end the scoring in the frame to give the CornBelters a 6-1 lead.
Normal extended the lead by two in the eighth. with one out, Asif Shah singled and scored from first on a Mark Samuelson double.. Mike Mobbs then hit a two-out double off the big scoreboard in right field to plate Samuelson to increase the Belters lead to 8-1.
One more run plated in the ninth when Steve Alexander hit a drive off the base of the right-field wall to score Brandon Newton, who had singled with one out to give the Belters their 9-1 advantage.
The Rascals scored in the ninth when Stephen Holdren led off with a walk and scored on a triple by Chad Maddox, who came home on a ground ball.
Tyler Lavigne (6-7) earned his second straight win with a seven-inning outing in which he gave up one earned run on four hits while walking one and striking out seven. Don Lisi (6-2) took the loss.
The series concludes on Thursday night with right-handers starting on the mound, Bobby Pritchett (8-3, 3.75) for the CornBelters and Preston Vancil (1-3, 6.91) for the Rascals.