The longest homestand of the season began with a bang for the Gateway Grizzlies, who whacked seven extra-base hits in a 10-hit barrage Tuesday night at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, that carried the home team to a convincing 7-1 win over the visiting Evansville Otters.
Three Grizzlie players, catcher Landon Hernandez, left fielder Jon Myers, and shortstop Vladimir Frias had two hits apiece, and Hernandez, Myers, and first baseman Jose Flores had two RBIs each to lead a Gateway offense that has scored 19 runs in its last three games.
Myers, who leads the Grizzlies in nearly every offensive category this season, raised his team-leading RBI total to 25 with the two rund he drove in, and Flores blasted his third home run of the season to lead off the eighth inning.
But it was Hernandez’s line-shot ground-ruled double in the third inning that proved to be the big blow of the night, as he drove home two with a two-out laser beam that gave Gateway a 4-1 lead.
Teammate Chris McClendon had just doubled home Alex Guthrie to give the Grizzlies the lead, but Hernandez’s shot gave Gateway the breathing room it needed to cruise through the rest of the game.
Starting pitcher Tucker Jensen (4-1) did his part as well, going eight innings, and allowing the Otters just four scratch singles and a walk, which produced just one unearned run on a sacrifice fly following an error by Hernandez.
Jensen, who has gone at least seven innings in each of his last four starts — three of them wins — also struck out five.
Richard Barrett pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation to close out the game for the Grizzlies.
Gateway, which came into the night tied with Evansville for the best record in the Frontier League this season, now owns that title by themselves with a 22-11 mark.
The win also allowed the Grizzlies to move to three games ahead of the second-place Schaumburg Boomers in the Frontier League West Division standings, after Schaumburg lost on Tuesday night to the Traverse City Beach Bums, who were able to leap frog Evansville to now take over first place in the Frontier League East Division.
The Grizzlies-Otters series will continue on Wednesday, with veteran righthander Tim Brown (4-2, 2.32 ERA) making the start for Gateway, and rookie lefthander Ryan Zamorsky (4-1, 1.43 ERA) getting the ball for Evanvsville.
First pitch on Wednesday is set for 7:05 p.m., with the series finale scheduled for the same time on Thursday.