Baseball: Slammers salvage series finale vs. T-Bolts
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media July 26, 2014 10:52PM
Windy City's Ryan Tufts gets a base hit against the Joliet Slammers, July 26, 2014.| Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 28, 2014 6:54AM
In Friday’s loss to the Windy City ThunderBolts, the Joliet Slammers went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Slammers started slow again Saturday, but once they got one clutch hit, they were unstoppable.
The first of three two-run doubles from Grant DeBruin started a streak of 12 unanswered runs from the fifth to seventh innings for Joliet, which salvaged one win in the three-game series by rolling to a 16-5 win in front of 2,248 fans at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
Joliet (23-37) set a franchise record with 21 hits. Windy City fell to 22-37.
“It was definitely a good feeling,” DeBruin said, “especially after (Friday). Hopefully we can keep it going in our next series at Traverse City.”
With the Slammers down 4-1, Danny Hernandez started the fifth-inning rally by drawing a one-out walk off T-Bolts starter Josh Spence. After Chris Epps struck out, Joliet produced three straight two-out hits. Max Casper (3-for-5) singled, followed by DeBruin’s two-run double. DeBruin (4-for-6, 6 RBI) scored on Russell Moldenhauer’s single to tie the game 4-4.
Joliet adjusted well to the soft-tossing Spence (0-5). The third time through the order, the Slammers went 5-for-7 with a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt.
“When we got those first couple big hits, it definitely helped alleviate some pressure,” DeBruin said. “We got the game tied and we just kept hitting.”
Spence was charged with six earned runs on nine hits over five-plus innings.
The sixth was even better for the Slammers, as they scored six times on seven hits against Spence and Windy City reliever Victor Larez.
Epps produced a two-run single, DeBruin came through with his second two-run double, and Moldenhauer (4-for-5) and JD Dorgan added RBI singles in the inning.
English drove in the Slammers’ 11th run with a seventh-inning double and DeBruin came through with yet another two-RBI double later in the frame.
“It’s a big baseball cliche, but hitting is contagious,” Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “Grant made something big happen and then guys started relaxing at the plate.”
Colin Gotzon (1-1) earned his first professional win, allowing four earned runs on seven hits in five innings.
Joliet tacked on three more runs in the ninth.
Windy City grabbed the early lead when Ryan McIntyre hit a two-run homer in the first. After Garcia’s solo shot in the second cut the lead to 2-1, Ryan Soares, who went 5-for-5 Friday, added a two-run double in the third to stretch the advantage to three.
The T-Bolts wouldn’t score again until Max White produced a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Ryan Tufts, who was signed by Windy City before the game — Jon Mestas was released — went 3-for-4 in his debut.
The biggest news of the night for the T-Bolts came when Evan Button was pulled from the game in the eighth inning with the announcement that it’d be his last game at Standard Bank Stadium.
Button, who’s hitting .266 and ranks fourth on the team with 23 RBI, will be with the team for three more games in Rockford before leaving to take a coaching job in Singapore.
“It’s bittersweet,” he said. “It was very emotional (Saturday). I’m going to miss it, but I’m 27 and time to move on. This is a chance of a lifetime.”