JOLIET, IL – The ThunderBolts scored six early runs and held off a late Joliet charge in a 6-5 win at Silver Cross Field Saturday night.
The Bolts had an early deficit for the first time in the series when Joliet scored twice in the first. Patrick Norris led off with a single and later scored on Abel Nieves’s base hit. Nieves scored on a bases loaded fielder’s choice off the bat of David Fox.
Tommy Mendoza retired the first eight ThunderBolts hitters, but the Bolts bats came alive with two outs in the third. Travis Weaver and Mike Torres hit back-to-back singles before Weaver scored on a wild pitch. After Chris Wade walked, Cregar’s first home run, a three-run shot, gave the Bolts their first lead at 4-2.
They added a run in the fourth on a Brandon Decker double and Brandon Pearl sacrifice fly and in the fifth, Cregar’s second homer, a solo blast, made it 6-2.
Joliet fought back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth on an Erik Lis bases loaded single, but they did not get anything more in the inning and left the bases loaded.
The Slammers scored in the sixth when Hector Pellot grounded out, bringing in Matt Mirabal, who had singled.
Joliet had numerous chances after that, most notably in the eighth. Bob Glover saved a run, throwing Patrick Norris out at home on a Pellot single. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded and two outs, Weaver made a diving stop to retire Kyle Maunus and keep the lead.
The ThunderBolts loaded the bases in the ninth and couldn’t score but another missed opportunity for Joliet sealed the Windy City win. The Slammers had runners at second and third with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but Shane Zegarac forced back-to-back game-ending groundouts. Overall, Joliet stranded 14 men.
Blayne Weller (4-0) pitched five innings for the win and Tommy Mendoza (3-4) lasted only four in the loss. Zegarac picked up his eighth save.
The ThunderBolts return home Sunday night to begin a big three-game showdown with the second-place Schaumburg Boomers. Game one will take place on Standard Bank Family night at Standard Bank Stadium. Players will sign autographs before the game and fans can play catch on the field afterwards. During the game, Tyson Corley (1-5, 4.08) will be pitching for Windy City against Schaumburg’s Cody Griebling (0-1, 2.84). The ballgame begins at 5:05 and can be heard on WXAV, 88.3 fm and wxav.com.