05/10/2018 9:31 PM
CRESTWOOD, IL – After losing a lead in the ninth inning, Larry Balkwill’s two-run home run in the bottom of the 11th inning sent the Windy City ThunderBolts to a 4-3 win over the River City Rascals on Opening Night at Standard Bank Stadium.
The ThunderBolts’ (1-0) offense started hot as the first three batters reached base in the first inning. Ishmael Edwards picked up his first pro hit, an infield single and Tim Zier walked. Riley Krane followed with a double down the right field line to score the first two runs of the year.
Zac Westcott took over from there, throwing eight shutout innings and tying his career high with 11 strikeouts. He retired the last nine men that he faced and left with a 2-0 lead.
River City (0-1) came back, though, with two outs in the ninth inning. Zach Lavy walked and Kevin Suarez singled to keep the game alive for Paul Kronenfeld, who doubled them both in, tying the score.
It remained 2-2 into the 11th inning when the tiebreaker rule came into effect, allowing both teams to start with a runner at second base. Mike Jurgella began the top of the frame with a double that gave the Rascals their first lead at 3-2. Jack Andersen was able to get through the rest of the inning without allowing another run.
Balkwill came up with Tim Zier at second and one out in the bottom of the frame and sent a towering fly over the left field wall to end it. Going back to the last game of 2017, it was the ThunderBolts’ second straight walk-off win.
Andersen (1-0) picked up the win in his pro debut. Former ThunderBolt Cody Mincey (0-1) took the loss.
Game two of the three-game set is Friday night at 7:05. Patrick Ledet starts for the Bolts against the Rascals’ Dan Ludwig. The game will be followed by the Super Mega Fireworks Spectacular sponsored by Lumina Pyrotechnics. The radio broadcast can be heard on WXAV 88.3 FM and wxav.com.
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