Slammers end June on low note with 6-1 loss to Grizzlies
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Ties Media June 29, 2014 7:34PM
Joliet, IL - Sunday, June 29, 2014: Joliet's Adam Lewis (5) puts the ball in play vs the Gateway Grizzlies. | Steve Johnston/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 30, 2014 2:12AM
The highlight for Joliet Slammers fans Sunday afternoon at Silver Cross Field came between innings, when team mascot Spikes won a race around the bases against six other mascots.
As for the game, Joliet dropped to a season-worst eight games below .500 at 15-23 with a 6-1 loss to the Gateway Grizzlies, whose 28-13 record is best in the Frontier League.
The Slammers have lost seven of their last eight games. They were outscored 31-7 and allowed 46 hits in getting swept by Gateway.
The recent results finally got to manager Jeff Isom, who was tossed with two outs in the top of the seventh after he argued a call at second base.
“It’s been a struggle pretty much on both sides — pitching, and offense hasn’t been putting up a whole lot of runs,’’ second-year Slammer Grant DeBruin said. “I think we’ll be all right. We’ve got a tough group of guys.’’
First-year Slammer Max Casper, who played shortstop for Isom last year at Lake Erie, remains upbeat. He had the only RBI Sunday, but his team-best 14-game hitting streak ended.
“You know, you’ve just got to keep playing,’’ Casper said. “Best part is, after the off day we’ll get to come back out and play again.
“It’s a grind. We just need to get through it, fight through it. Keep coming out and giving it our best every day. Eventually things will start falling in our favor.’’
Hard-throwing reliever Santo Manzanillo made his first start of the season in place of rookie Kody McFarland, who was the scheduled starter.
“They wanted to switch things up,’’ McFarland said. “Our closer (Manzanillo) comes in throwing harder. They wanted to give our team a chance to jump on them.’’
Gateway, however, scored once in the second and went ahead 5-0 with a four-run third that included back-to-back homers by 2013 Slammer Niko Vasquez and Richard Seigel, who homered twice in Saturday’s 17-3 win.
McFarland finished the game for the Slammers with five scoreless innings. He allowed four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.
“Saw some good things from McFarland. That’s the bright spot,’’ Slammers first-base coach and hitting coach Matt Kennedy said. “If we can get him back on track and just keep plugging away.’’
The Slammers were held to just four hits, including a third-inning double by Seth Granger, who scored on a groundout by Casper.
The Slammers start July with a road series Tuesday through Thursday against the Schaumburg Boomers. The Slammers return to Silver Cross Field on Friday to start a three-game set with the Evansville Otters.
DeBruin is confident the results will change for the Slammers, who started the season 3-0.
“We’ve got a good team,’’ he said. “We all like each other. It’s not anything in the clubhouse. It’ll start coming together.’’