Updated: September 18, 2014 6:45AM
The Windy City ThunderBolts rallied for walk-off wins Thursday and Friday nights and were in striking distance to do so again Saturday.
Zach Tanner, though, made sure the Frontier Greys weren’t going to take their chances with a one-run ninth-inning lead this time.
Tanner hit a two-out grand slam in the eighth inning off Jessie Snodgrass to break open what was a 3-2 game and the Greys evened the three-game series with a 7-2 win in front of 2,559 fans at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
Snodgrass had pitched 21/3 innings of perfect relief heading into the eighth, but he issued two one-out walks and an error loaded the bases. The sidewinder struck out Chris Ellison and thought he had done the same to Tanner on a 2-2 pitch that was called a ball. Tanner then sent a full-count pitch over the wall in left-center to give the Greys (27-52) insurance runs.
The grand slam came after T-Bolts manager Ron Biga came to the mound but allowed Snodgrass to stay in and face Tanner.
“He looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’ve got him,’ ” Biga said. “I’ve got all the faith in the world in him. If he had shown any doubt, I would have pulled him.
“The frustrating thing is there were a lot of balls and strikes that you just didn’t know which way they were going with (umpire Carlos Flores).”
Windy City (29-50) allowed a first-inning run for the fifth straight game as Joe Rapp produced a RBI single.
The T-Bolts struck right back in the bottom of the first as Kyle Robinson blasted his 13th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left-center.
That was all the T-Bolts could muster offensively, though. Greys starter Lemarre Rey (3-5) went five innings for the win.
“We put ourselves in position to score, but we left a lot of guys on base,” Windy City’s Mike Torres said. “It’s tough to win when you do that.”
The Greys put up runs in the fourth and sixth on RBI doubles from Jon Dziomba and former T-Bolt Chase Tucker.
Dziomba was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Andrew Brauer after a Cameron Monger single. Greys manager Kyle Haines protested to no avail that T-Bolts catcher Michael Allen blocked the plate.
T-Bolts starter Josh Spence (1-8) allowed three earned runs on nine hits over 52/3 innings.
Before the game, the T-Bolts traded starter Daniel Cropper to the Gateway Grizzlies for a player to be named later. Cropper, the team’s Opening Day starter, is 6-7 with a 4.39 ERA and has had a strong second half of the season.
The move sends Cropper to a contender. The Grizzlies entered Saturday a half-game out of the league’s final playoff spot.
“A guy like Danny, this might be his last season,” Biga said. “He’s worked his tail off and he deserves a chance to go compete for a championship.”