CRESTWOOD, Ill. — The River City Rascals started the second half of the 2019 season the same way they ended the first half…with a victory. The Rascals outlasted the Windy City ThunderBolts 4-3 in the series opener from Ozinga Field, in a back-and-forth affair that featured solid pitching and clutch hitting from both teams.
Neither team scored until the fifth, when James Morisano’s RBI double gave the Rascals a 1-0 lead. That lead would not last long, however, as the Bolts countered for two runs in the bottom of the frame. Windy City got on the board with a bloop RBI single from Tyler Straub, and took the lead when Brett Coffel scored later in the inning on a wild pitch.
JD Hearn tied the game 2-2 with an RBI single in the sixth, and the Rascals re-gained the lead for good in the seventh. After James Morisano singled to lead-off the frame, he stole second, as well as third. As Coffel, the Bolts catcher, tried to peg him put at third, the throw sailed into left field, allowing Morisano to score easily on the error. Andrew Penner then hit a one-out triple, and was brought home on a sacrifice fly from Trevor Achenbach.
The Bolts recorded three straight hits to begin the eighth, including an RBI single from Tyler Alamo, before Tanner Cable retired the next three hitters in order on strikeouts to keep the lead intact. Jason Zgardowski worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick-up his fifth save of the season.
Rascals starter Taylor Ahearn took a no-decision, despite not allowing a hit over the first four innings. He ended up allowing two runs on two hits in five innings, with four walks and four strikeouts. Reliever Andrew Vernon (1-1) earned the win, pitching two perfect innings before allowing back-to-back hits to lead-off the eighth.
Bolts starter Chris Washington (1-5) took the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out nine and did not issue a walk.
The Rascals (28-23) will look to take the 2-0 series lead over the ThunderBolts (22-29) tomorrow night, with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CDT. Travis McQueen is expected to take the mound for the Rascals.