After enjoying its most exciting win of the early season in a ninth-inning comeback on Thursday, the River City Rascals pulled off some last at-bat fireworks again on Friday, thanks to a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth that gave the home club a 7-6 victory over the Lake Erie Crushers at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O’Fallon.
River City came into the final inning trailing Lake Erie 6-5, but a single, a double, and balk on Crushers’ reliever Brad Duffy allowed the Rascals to tie the score, and put the potential winning run on third with nobody out.
Duffy managed to get the next two River City batters out, but rookie Andy Scott — the Rascals’ second-round pick in last month’s Frontier League Draft — laced a single through the Lake Erie infield to drive in teammate Will Block for the game-winning run.
The second straight walkoff win gave River City its fifth victory in its last six games, which has vaulted the Rascals into a first place tie with the Gateway Grizzlies and Normal CornBelters in the Frontier League West Division.
Both those clubs also won on Friday, and now all three share the same 5-2 records on the season.
For a while though on Friday, it looked like River City might not be able to pull this one out, as Lake Erie rallied twice from early deficits to take the lead on the Rascals.
First, the Crushers battled back from a 2-0 hole, with three runs in the top of the third to take a 3-2 lead.
Then after the Rascals answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third, Lake Erie scored three more times in the top of the fifth to take a 6-5 lead.
All six Lake Erie runs were charged to River City righthander Cameron Bayne, who suffered his second straight rough outing for the Rascals.
The former Chicago White Sox farmhand, who signed with the Rascals during the offseason, has made only the two appearances (one start) for River City this season, and has allowed 14 hits and 11 runs in five total innings of work.
Fortunately for the Rascals, relievers Chandler Jagodzinski (River City’s third-round pick in this year’s Draft), Kaleb Engleke, and Kyle Owings were able to hold Lake Erie scoreless over the final four innings, setting up Scott’s heroics at the end.
Owings (1-0), another Frontier League rookie, who did play at the low-A ball level for the Arizona Diamondbacks last year, got the win, after tossing 2 2/3 perfect innings for the Rascals, with no hits and no walks allowed, while striking out.
At the plate, outfielder Evan Crawford continued his hot hitting to start the season, with two more hits, two RBIs, and a run scored to lead the Rascals.
Teammates Steve Carillo and Jake Atwell also had two hits apiece as well, while No. 2 hitter Curran Redal ended River City’s home run drought by launching the first ball over the boards for the Rascals this season, when he blasted one out to lead off the third inning.
The Rascals and Crushers will be back in action on Saturday at T.R. Hughes, with Game 2 of their three-game set. First pitch on Saturday is slated for 7:05 p.m.
Righthander Craig Goodman, yet another Rascals rookie, from Division II Tusculum College, will get the start and make his professional debut for River City on Saturday, while Lake Erie has yet to announce who will make the start for their club.