LOVES PARK, Ill. - The Gateway Grizzlies (16-31) scored eight runs in the seventh inning against the Rockford Aviators (29-17) on Thursday night at Aviator Stadium, erasing an early three-run deficit and ultimately beating the Aviators, 9-5.
The Grizzlies trailed 3-0 entering the seventh inning before exploding for eight runs in the frame. Rockford starting pitcher Tony Rizzotti, who owned the Frontier League's lowest ERA coming into the evening, held the Grizzlies' offense scoreless through six innings.
In the seventh, Rolando Gomez got the scoring started against Rizzotti with an RBI single to drive in Grant Buckner, cutting the deficit to 3-1. LHP David Russo replaced Rizzotti and proceeded to walk Richard Seigel and Madison Beaird, which loaded the bases with one out. Cody Livesay then stepped in against RHP Eric Cendejas and laced a two-RBI single to left field to tie the game at 3-3.
Ben Waldrip then delivered a go-ahead base hit which scored Beaird from third base and gave the Grizzlies a 4-3 advantage. Cendejas then walked Blake Brown to force in a run. The inning was capped off by Tyler Tewell's run-scoring single and Gomez's second RBI single of the frame, which made the score 8-3. The Grizzlies sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning while having eight different players score a run.
The Aviators struck back quickly in the bottom half of the seventh. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Tyler Smith smacked a two-run single to cut the Grizzlies' lead to 8-5.
Rockford's bats would again threaten in the eighth. Grizzlies RHP Byron Minnich issued walks to the inning's first two batters, which led Phil Warren to bring in closer Brett Zawacki. Zawacki induced a double play against Brian Bistagne and then struck out Devon Rodriguez to strand the tying run at home plate. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning to seal the win while picking up his fourth save of the year.
Grizzlies right-hander Donny Murray was solid in his second professional start, allowing three runs in five innings on the mound. Murray allowed a two-run homer to Elijah Trail in the fourth along with one more run to give Rockford a 3-0 lead. The score stayed that way until Gateway's eight-run explosion in the seventh.
Richard Seigel led the Grizzlies' offense with three hits in the contest and he also collected an RBI.
The Grizzlies begin a three-game series against the River City Rascsals at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo. on Friday night. Gateway sends RHP Vincent Molesky (3-2, 5.21 ERA) to the mound. Sam Levitt will call the action on the Grizzlies Radio Network, which airs on 101 ESPN's digital platforms and 1400 AM KJFF. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m.