CRESTWOOD, IL – The ThunderBolts scored ten unanswered runs to come from behind and defeat the Normal CornBelters 11-7 at Standard Bank Stadium Friday night. The win gave the ThunderBolts a 5-1 homestand.
The game began inauspiciously for Windy City when Alvaro Ramirez reached on a dropped third strike and scored as part of Frank Martinez’s two-run homer.
The Bolts answered with a first-inning run for the sixth straight day. Zach Aakhus brought home Brandon Anderson on a sacrifice fly, but the game fell apart for the home team in the top of the second. The CornBelters batted around against Dustin Williams and scored five runs on three hits, two walks and a crucial two-out error, giving them a 7-1 lead.
Windy City was down but not out. Their comeback began in the third. Larry Pempek doubled and scored on an Anderson groundout. Then in the fourth, Aakhus doubled and Devin Shepherd homered, cutting the deficit to 7-4. Chris Wade followed that up with a triple and he scored on Ryan Basham’s groundout.
The comeback was in jeopardy in the fifth when Normal loaded the bases with one out. But Greg Johnson came out of the bullpen and got a pop out and a strikeout to preserve the two-run deficit and the ThunderBolts’ momentum.
In the bottom of that inning, the Windy City hitters sent nine men up and scored four runs. The big hits came from Aakhus, who singled home Nick Kuroczko, Wade, who doubled Aakhus home, and Chad Cregar, who, with two outs, lined a ball off the pitcher and beat the throw to first for an infield single. Wade, sprinting the whole way, scored from second on the play, making it 9-7 Bolts.
They added a pair for insurance in the sixth. Once again, Aakhus singled in Kuroczko and Anderson scored on a Shepherd grounder to seal the final score at 11-7. The ThunderBolts bullpen threw 4.2 scoreless innings.
Johnson picked up the win, pitching an inning and two thirds (3-0) and Normal starter Brett Lester took the loss (4-2)
The Thunderbolts embark on a six-game road trip to Southern Illinois and Normal starting Saturday night at Rent One Park in Marion. The 7:05 start time will feature Matt Jernstad (3-4) topping the hill for the Bolts against Southern Illinois’ Joe Augustine (0-1), last year’s Frontier League Pitcher of the Year. The game can be heard on WXAV 88.3 fm and wxav.com.
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