CRESTWOOD, IL – Dustin Williams pitched eight innings for the ThunderBolts Friday night as they defeated the Gateway Grizzlies 5-3 at Standard Bank Stadium in front of 2917 fans, a season-high night crowd.
Gateway scored first, without a hit, on Joe Agreste’s third-inning sacrifice fly. But the Bolts quickly answered, scoring three times in the bottom of the inning. Their rally began on a Lee Rubin one-out double. Quentin Luquette singled to put runners at the corners before Brandon Anderson laid down a bunt that scored Rubin. Nick Kuroczko then singled and Mike Torres came up with an infield single, allowing Luquette to score. Kuroczko came in on a shortstop error. Windy City led 3-1 and did not trail the rest of the way.
Kent Gerst led off the fourth with a home run to make it a one-run game, but again the Bolts responded. Alex Chavez singled and Rubin walked to put two on with two outs before Quentin Luquette reached on a bunt single. When pitcher Ryan Juarez threw the ball away, Chavez crossed the plate.
In the fifth, Gateway came up with a two-out run when Gerst singled home Derek Jennings but for the third straight inning, the ThunderBolts countered with a run of their own. With Kuroczko at third and Zach Aakhus at second, DJ Fitzgerald hit a one-hopper up the middle that was stopped by Jennings, but not fielded cleanly. Kuroczko scored but Aakhus was thrown out at the plate, holding the score at 5-3.
Williams did his best work from the sixth inning on, allowing just one baserunner on a bloop hit. Jett Hart, who got the hit to lead off the seventh, was then picked off.
Williams departed in the ninth and the Grizzlies put two runners on with no outs against Wes Alsup. But the Bolts closer retired the next three hitters to secure the win.
Williams became the frontier League’s first ten-game winner, allowing two earned runs over eight innings (10-5) while Juarez took the loss (4-2). Alsup earned his eighth save.
The ThunderBolts and Grizzlies will play game two of the series Saturday night at Standard Bank Stadium. There will be a pre-game concert performed by Jerry Elvis Vegas and a postgame firework show to go along with the 7:05 game. Bryant Cotton (6-7) will start against Erick Carillo (2-2). The game can be heard on Sportsjuice.com.