NORMAL, IL – A two-out walk-off double in the bottom of the 9th by AJ Miller gave the Normal CornBelters a 3-2 victory over the Windy City ThunderBolts Thursday night at The Corn Crib to take the three-game series despite a strong eight inning effort by Bolts starter Matt Jernstad.
The Bolts struck first, manufacturing a run when Brandon Anderson led off the game with a single, moved to second on a Mike Torres sacrifice, reached third on a passed ball and crossed the plate on a Zach Aakhus sacrifice fly.
The CornBelters quickly answered with a Brad Agustin double and Frank Martinez RBI single in the bottom of the first. Then Normal took the 2-1 lead in the third when Alvaro Ramirez singled, reached third on an error and scored when Martinez grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Windy City tied it in the fourth when Aakhus reached on an error and moved to third on a Devin Shepherd double. Chad Cregar knocked him in on a groundout.
The game belonged to the pitchers after that. Matt Jernstad went eight innings and allowed just the two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts. The combination of Michael Click, Donald Furrow and Marshall Schuler shut down the ThunderBolts.
The Bolts’ best scoring chance came in the seventh. They loaded the bases with two outs, but Furrow got Torres to ground out to end the inning.
Greg Johnson relieved Jernstad in the ninth and allowed a one-out single to Tyler Keeble. Tyler McNeely hit a one-hopper to second base that came within inches of being a double play, but he beat the throw to first keeping the inning alive for AJ Miller, who doubled to right to score McNeely and give the CornBelters a 3-2 win.
Schuler picked up the win (1-0) and Johnson took his first loss (3-1).
The Bolts return home after their 1-5 road trip Friday night to take on the Southern Illinois Miners at 7:05. John Mincone (0-0) will start his first game for Windy City and will be opposed by Brendan Malkowski (5-2). Domestic draft beers will be just $1 for Budweiser Fill ‘R Up Friday. If you can’t make the game, you can hear it live on Sportsjuice.com.
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