Baseball: Gateway Grizzlies too much for Slammers in 17-3 romp
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Ties Media June 28, 2014 9:44PM
Joliet Slammers' Grant DeBruin. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 30, 2014 6:56AM
The Frontier League standings don’t show it, but one experienced observer is convinced the Joliet Slammers are improved over the past two seasons.
“To where they were last year and the year before, the improvement, you can see in one game,’’ said Gateway first-base coach Mike Breyman, the Slammers’ manager in 2013.
That was before the middle game of the series Saturday night at Silver Cross Field.
Gateway pounded rookie left-hander Jake Hermsen for 12 runs and nine hits in the first three innings, including three home runs, and rolled to a 17-3 victory.
“It seemed like everything I threw up there they were hitting,’’ Hermsen said. “That happens to every pitcher sometimes, just trying to get through it.’’
The Slammers (15-22) have lost six of their past seven games and have the same record now as this point last season.
The West Division-leading Grizzlies (27-13) have won six in a row and own the league’s best record. Gateway entered Saturday’s game hitting .240 as a team compared with .253 for Joliet.
Gateway’s nine-run second inning Saturday stunned the crowd of 2,194. It started with a misplayed popup between first baseman Russell Moldenhauer and second baseman Danny Hernandez, the latter of who dropped the ball for an error.
After a base hit and a walk loaded the bases, Hermsen recorded a strikeout for what should have been the second out of the inning.
But then Hermsen, who went into the game with a respectable 3.69 ERA, allowed a two-run single, two-run triple, an RBI base hit and a double. After a hit batter and sacrifice fly, Richard Seigel ripped a three-run homer. Gateway tacked on three more runs off Hermsen in the third.
“I feel like I threw some good pitches and they just had my number,’’ Hermsen said. “It’s one day to move on from.’’
Joliet’s Grant DeBruin had two hits and a run on his birthday. The 24-year-old Florida native entered the game with a team-best .336 batting average.
Hernandez also had two hits, including a two-run double in the fourth to make it 15-2.
Amid Gateway’s barrage, the Slammers still flashed some defense. Center fielder Seth Granger made a diving catch in the first inning and third baseman DeBruin dived to the bag for a smash and stood up to throw out the runner to end the third.
Joliet rookie right-hander Kody McFarland will start the series finale at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Silver Cross Field. Slammers pitchers have allowed 35 hits in the first two games.
“We talked with our starters,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “We’ve got to find somebody who just says, ‘Enough is enough.’ Go out and compete for six, seven innings.’’