LONDON, ON – Chad Cregar’s ninth-inning grand slam put the ThunderBolts ahead 7-5 in a game they would hang on to win 7-6 over the London Rippers at Labatt Park Wednesday night.
The Bolts got off to a strong start scoring a run in the first on back-to-back hits from the first two hitters, Bob Glover and Mike Torres.
The 1-0 lead held into the third as Mike Recchia retired the first seven hitters he faced. In the third, though, he walked consecutive batters before Shane Bagley knocked in both runs on a single to give the Rippers a 2-1 advantage.
Windy City was quick to respond in the top of the fourth, when Zach Aakhus singled and T.J. McManus doubled to put men at second and third with two outs for Glover, who singled home Aakhus. McManus was thrown out at the plate on the play.
London followed with three unanswered runs in the sixth and seventh. Joash Brodin singled home Matt Wright, who had walked, in the sixth inning and in the seventh, Jim Vahalik’s sacrifice fly scored David Christensen. After Recchia departed, Wright singled home Aaron Glaum, who had walked.
The ThunderBolts tightened the score to 5-3 in the eighth on a Zach Aakhus RBI fielder’s choice. He scored Chad Cregar, who had singled.
In the ninth, C.J. Gillman, in his first professional plate appearance, was hit by a pitch from London closer David Francis. Glover walked, and with one out, Chris Wade singled to load the bases. Chad Cregar swung at the first pitch and drilled his tenth home run of the year, a grand slam to right, that put the Bolts on top 7-5.
There was another scare in the bottom of the ninth when London loaded the bases with no outs, but Shane Zegarac was able to get the final three outs, only allowing one run to score to hang on to the victory.
Mark Kuzma (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth inning for his first pro win and Francis (0-3) took the loss. It was Zegarac’s fifth save.
The ThunderBolts nine-game road trip continues on Thursday evening at Labatt Park, where the Bolts will take on the London Rippers in game two. Stephen Sauer (4-1, 2.26) will start the game for Windy City against London’s Brandon Sinnery (1-0, 2.25). The game begins at 5:30 p.m. CDT and the broadcast can be heard on WXAV, 88.3 fm and wxav.com.