Belters 8 Bolts 5
CRESTWOOD, IL—It was an exciting 9th inning for Windy City to give 1,991 fans a reason to believe the ThunderBolts could pull off a miraculous comeback, but in the end Normal pitching dominated the overall night giving the CornBelters the win 8-5. Normal (27-23) evened up the series against the ‘Bolts (21-30) one game apiece with a Saturday night victory at Standard Bank Stadium.
The CornBelters utilized a two-out walk by Matt Wickswat as Ryan Lashley belted a two-run homerun in the 1st inning to put Normal on top 2-0 quickly.
The ‘Bolts struggled against Drew Provence’s pitching all night, until making some noise in the 5th inning. Windy City has the bases loaded with only one out, but Mike Torres flew out to left field and Normal’s Mike Mobbs gunned down Doug Joyce at home for the final out.
That failed chance was the turning point as Normal plated six runs in the 6th inning. Wickswat gave up two walks and two hits before being chased out but the Belters did not stop. T.J. Gavlik , Santiago Chirino and Keoni Manago each had RBI singles in the inning and Lashley scored on a run on a double, making the score 8-0.
That would remain the score into the ninth, when the ThunderBolts used some help to rally. With two outs and Ryan Soares at first base, Kyle Robinson’s double broke up the shutout. Doug Joyce then walked and Andrew Brauer reached on an error to load the bases. Nathan Pittman was hit by a pitch to force in the second run and Miles Walding reached on an error to score another and keep the bases loaded. Torres’s single was just the second hit of the inning, but it scored Brauer and put the tying run on base. Jeff Harkensee walked to force in another run and bring the Bolts to within three, but Normal closer Alan Oaks came out of the ‘pen and forced Soares to pop out to end the threat.
Provence (4-2) pitched seven shutout frames for the win and Wickswat (2-8) allowed six runs in 5.1 innings, taking the loss. Oaks earned his fifth save.
The ThunderBolts and CornBelters will wrap up the season’s first half with the rubber match on Sunday night at Standard Bank Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 as Windy City’s Daniel Cropper (5-2, 5.14) will face Normal’s Jose Trinidad (4-2, 4.10). The broadcast can be heard on 88.3 WXAV-FM and wxav.com.