J.T. Restko hit the first ThunderBolts home run of 2010 and the ThunderBolts held off a late CornBelters charge as Windy City opened the Corn Crib with a 3-2 victory.
After nine games on the road to begin the season, Normal came home to open their new ballpark in front of a sellout crowd at the Corn Crib, but it was Windy City fans who were celebrating early with a first inning run. After Tyler Lavigne retired the first two batters he faced, Mike Sullivan reached on an error, and after a Restko walk, came in to score on Tim Alberts’s RBI single.
In the third inning, with Kent Gerst on first base and two outs, Restko launched a 2-0pitch over the right field fence for the first ThunderBolt home run of the season. For a while it looked like the 3-0 lead would hold up easily, but after Matt Jernstad was excellent through six innings, Normal started to hit him in the seventh. Daniel Cox singled with one out and Mike Garcia walked, leading up to Andrew Barbaro. His double to left field plated one and chased Jernstad from the game. Greg Johnson got the last two outs, allowing one inherited runner to score.
Windy City had chances with men in scoring position in the fifth, seventh and ninth, but failed to add to their lead, so it was still 3-2 when Nick Hall came on in the bottom of the ninth. The first two batters reached on infield singles, and Asif Shah came up to bunt, but he bunted straight back to the pitcher, and Hall, after double clutching, fired to third just in time to get the lead runner. Barbaro then grounded into a double play to end the game.
Jernstad improved to 2-1 with the win and Lavigne dropped to 1-2 on the loss. It was Nick Hall’s first save. Game two of the series is tomorrow, with Ryan Quigley (1-0) getting the call for Windy City. Game time is 7:05 with a pregame broadcast at 6:45 on WXAV 88.3 fm.