SAUGET, IL – Johnny Eierman hit a two-run homer and Clay Chapman threw 8.1 strong innings as the ThunderBolts won their third straight game, claiming the opener from the Gateway Grizzlies 2-1 at GCS Ballpark Friday night.
Gateway (32-34) took their only lead of the game with a second-inning run. Craig Massoni singled and Ben Waldrip doubled to put men at second and third with one out before Blake Brown’s groundout scored Massoni to make it 1-0.
Kyle Wood singled on the first pitch of the third inning for the ThunderBolts (32-32) and one pitch later, Eierman hit his third home run of the year to give the Bolts the 2-1 lead that they would hold for the rest of the night.
After allowing three baserunners in the second inning, Chapman settled in and allowed just one hit, an infield single over the next six frames. The Grizzlies got a runner to third base in the sixth inning, but Chapman retired Tyler Tewell to end that threat.
Windy City had a chance in the eighth to add some runs as the first two batters walked, but Will Landsheft, who struck out a career-high ten, fanned two in a row to end the inning.
The leadoff batter in the ninth inning, Brandon Thomas, walked and Massoni singled with one out to put men at first and third and chase Chapman. Brian Loconsole came out of the bullpen and struck out Waldrip. The next batter, pinch hitter Zach Lavy, hit a hard groundball to the right side but Larry Balkwill, who had just come in to play first base, made a diving stop to end the game.
Chapman improved to 7-4, allowing just four hits in the win and Landsheft (4-6) was the tough luck loser, allowing two runs in eight innings.
The ThunderBolts continue their three-game series with the Grizzlies on Saturday. Tyler Murphy (2-3, 3.81) will start game two at GCS Ballpark for Windy City against Vince Molesky (3-5, 3.40) for Gateway. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 and the game broadcast can be heard through wcthunderbolts.com.
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