|Rascals hand ‘Belters series loss|
|Written by Kevin Massoth, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Tuesday, 27 July 2010 19:42|
In baseball when a team is hitting well the base paths act as a never-ending merry-go-round.
When this merry-go-round is up and running, nothing can keep it from its continual motion.
Unfortunately for the Normal CornBelters, the merry-go-round seems to be under construction after halting offensive production in the series against the River City Rascals July 22-24 at the Corn Crib.
The CornBelters dropped two of three games in the series getting outscored 18-6.
“Our pitchers have been throwing great for us and keeping us in the ballgame,” Normal first baseman, Steve Alexander, said. “We really just haven’t gotten that clutch hit.”
Game one was a back and forth battle between both starting pitchers with the CornBelters taking the victory 1-0 Thursday night. Normal’s Dan Blewett and River City’s Tony Marsala kept the game scoreless all the way until the ninth inning when one ‘Belter became a hero.
On the first pitch in the ninth, Brad Augustin launched a leadoff homer over left fielder Chad Maddox’s glove to deliver the CornBelters a much needed victory.
“Augustin is just a little bulldog player,” Alexander said. “He plays with his heart on his sleeve and he came up big for us there. That’s what we need is some guys like that to come up big for us.”
Blewett did his job on the mound tossing eight innings of scoreless ball. Mike Laluna pitched a scoreless ninth to set up Augustin’s late inning heroics.
The second game of the series was another nail biter, but this time the CornBelters came out on the wrong end in a 3-2 loss to the Rascals on Friday night.
River City jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and Normal rallied to make it close but never did get the big hit when they needed it.
“When we have the opportunity to move a guy over with a bunt we have to do that and when we have an opportunity to drive a guy in we have to do that,” Alexander said. “We have to really focus when we have those runners in scoring position. When we start to do those things our season will turn around for us.”
The CornBelters had a shot to tie the game in the eighth inning, but Asif Shah was thrown out at the plate trying to score from third on a line drive to center fielder Caleb Curry.
That was the final chance for the ‘Belters as they outhit the Rascals 10-6, but stranded 11 baserunners before a crowd of 3,020 in Normal.
Augustin had another big game going 2-3 with two walks in the two spot of the lineup. Ryan Shelton took the loss for Normal allowing six hits and three runs in six innings pitched.
The CornBelters’ offensive production was not the only aspect that faltered in Saturday’s game, but so was their pitching in a 15-3 loss to River City in the rubber match of the West Division series.
The Rascals scored early and often on their way to smacking 17 hits against Normal’s eight and posting six runs in the first inning and four runs in the sixth.
Starting pitcher Andrew Guarrasi only recorded two outs before being pulled in the first inning and the ‘Belters never seemed to recover as three pitchers combined to give up 12 earned runs.
Despite the rough series, the CornBelters stayed positive in the locker room as they hope to inch their way closer to .500.
“All we need to do is continue to stay positive,” Alexander said. “I’m just trying to keep everyone positive in here and keep everyone playing pitch by pitch. Today’s a new day.”
Normal dropped its third straight game in a 4-2 loss to the Gateway Grizzlies on Sunday in the opener of a three game series in Normal.
It was another painful loss for Normal as they did not get the big hit stranding nine base runners throughout the game. Normal starting pitcher Bobby Pritchett took the loss tossing seven innings while giving up three earned runs and striking out eight.
“We’re just waiting for that one hit,” Alexander said. “It could be that one hit that just starts us going and from there on out we just continue rolling.”
The CornBelters had seven different players record a single hit including a solo homerun by third baseman Daniel Cox in the fourth inning.
The loss dropped Normal’s record to 25-33 overall and was their fourth loss in the last five games.