SAUGET, Ill. — The 2018 Gateway Grizzlies season in review.
Sept. 2, 2018
Blake Brown said goodbye to the Grizzlies after four seasons in a Gateway uniform. He went out with back-to-back singles after a two-homer night in the penultimate game of 2018. Gateway sent Brown out with a win, a touching tribute video and on-field ceremony, and induction into the Grizzlies' Hall of Fame.
Sept. 1, 2018
Blake Brown homered twice in a 12-inning Grizzlies victory. The game took four hours and 51 minutes; it ended two minutes shy of midnight when Trae Santos scored on a wild pitch. Both teams were down to their final strikes — Southern Illinois in the ninth inning and Gateway in the 11th — but stayed alive. Nine of the game's 23 total runs were scored in extra innings.
Brown's two big flies were his 17th and 18th of the season. More importantly, however, they were the 65th and 66th of his decorated Gateway tenure. Brown's 66 career Grizzlies home runs rank third in franchise history behind Charlie Lisk and Mike Breyman, both of whom are members of the Frontier League Hall of Fame
Nate Gatter had the call of Brown's 65th career home run on the Grizzlies Media Network:
(Prior to Sept. 1, Brown had never homered against Southern Illinois across nearly 40 games against the Miners in his four-year Grizzlies career.)
Aug. 19, 2018
Trae Santos hit a solo home run in the sixth inning and Grant Black hurled two scoreless innings to slam the door in the Gateway Grizzlies' 2-1 win over the Southern Illinois Miners at Rent One Park. Gateway (36-49) won the rubber match to take the hotly-contested series, two games to one.
Taso Stathopoulos (2-5) tossed the third quality start of his young career and earned the win with six innings of one-run ball. He struck out five. Patrick Boyle was credited with a hold for a shutout seventh inning to bridge the gap to Black.
Santos' sixth-inning homer — his 15th of the season — gave the Grizzlies a 2-0 lead before the Miners scratched out a run in the bottom of the sixth.
After he threw 18 pitches in two scoreless frames Thursday night and 20 pitches for a save Friday night, Black came back Sunday and bailed out a tired Grizzlies bullpen. He fired 40 pitches to record the final six outs and his sixth save of the season.
Nate Gatter had the call of the final out on the Grizzlies Media Network:
Aug. 17, 2018
With two on and two out in the eighth inning, Justin Ellison cracked a 3-2 pitch over the right-field fence to give the Gateway Grizzlies their first lead of the night en route to a 4-2 win over the Southern Illinois Miners at Rent One Park.
Ellison's homer — at the time, his ninth in only 39 games with Gateway — gave the Grizzlies (35-48) their second win of the week after trailing following the fifth inning. Prior to that week, the Grizzlies had only three wins against 36 losses in games they trailed after the fifth inning. The win was Gateway's first against Southern Illinois (41-38) in 2018 after six straight losses to start the season series.
Chris Metrick (1-1) earned his first professional win with a scoreless inning of relief. Alec Kisena turned in his second straight quality start with six innings of two-run ball and seven strikeouts, but he did not factor in the decision. Grant Black earned his fifth save with a shutout ninth inning.
Nate Gatter had the call of Ellison's dramatic home run on the Grizzlies Media Network:
Aug. 3, 2018
Jeff Cardenas launched a solo home run in the fourth inning to put the Gateway Grizzlies on the board before Trae Santos' RBI double and Justin Ellison's two-run double in the fifth inning gave the Grizzlies all the offense they needed in a 4-3 win over the Joliet Slammers at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
All four of the Grizzlies' runs scored with two outs.
Gateway (32-40) won its fourth straight to pull within 5.5 games of first place in the West Division. Santos extended his hitting streak to nine games. Brent Sakurai hit in his sixth straight game with two singles.
Mason Klotz (4-3) earned the win in his Grizzlies debut. He allowed three runs on six hits over 7 1/3 innings and struck out nine. Klotz, the reigning Frontier League Pitcher of the Week for his start July 25 as a member of the Lake Erie Crushers, made it through seven innings without allowing a run before he walked two and gave up a single in the eighth. Three runs scored against the Grizzlies' bullpen, all of which were charged to Klotz.
Gateway traded for Klotz from Lake Erie in exchange for a player to be named later.
Grant Black earned his third save of the season. He recorded the game's final four outs — all via strikeout.
Cody Livesay had the Grizzlies' only other multi-hit game. Seven Gateway batters had at least one hit.
July 27, 2018
Although the Grizzlies lost an 11-6 game to the Normal CornBelters, Blake Brown homered twice — the first of two multi-homer games for Gateway's veteran right fielder in 2018 — in the Bloomington, Illinois, native's return to his hometown.
Over the entirety of his four-year Grizzlies career, Brown never played a three-game series in Normal without hitting at least one home run.
July 26, 2018
The Gateway Grizzlies scored two runs in the seventh inning to take the lead, then Trae Santos lined a grand slam over the left-field wall in the eighth inning to put the game away and deliver Gateway an 8-3 win over the Evansville Otters at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Santos went 2-for-5 with a double and five RBIs. The grand slam was only Santos' second home run of July, but marked his club-leading 12th big fly of the season.
Max MacNabb (7-6) earned the win with his fourth straight quality start. He tossed seven innings, allowed three runs (only two earned) and struck out seven without a walk.
Chris Metrick tossed two scoreless innings out of the Grizzlies bullpen and struck out four Otters to earn his first professional save. The rookie entered in the eighth inning with the Grizzlies ahead 4-3, and thus earned the save despite the 8-3 final score.
Blake Brown equaled his career high with four hits.
July 21, 2018
Gateway Grizzlies outfielder Cody Livesay stole his 58th career base in the third inning to set a new franchise record, but Gateway lost 9-5 to the Traverse City Beach Bums at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Livesay had swiped 11 bases in 12 tries to that point, and No. 58 of his four-year Grizzlies career broke a tie with former Gateway infielder Jonathan Johnson. Livesay and Johnson also share the Grizzlies' hitting streak record at 23 games.
(Livesay finished with 18 steals on 20 attempts for the season and 65 stolen bases for his career.)
July 10, 2018
Gateway Grizzlies first baseman Trae Santos hit 32 total home runs to win the 2018 Frontier League Home Run Derby at CarShield Field.
Santos outslugged all participants over the first, second and third rounds — which narrowed down the eight Frontier League players to one representative — then beat former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and outfielder Rick Ankiel in the final.
Santos, a former San Diego Padres minor leaguer who reached Double-A San Antonio in 2016, finished seventh in the Frontier League with 17 home runs in 2018. He was the only Grizzlie to appear in each of Gateway's 96 games.
July 4, 2018
With two outs in the ninth inning, Blake Brown lined a walk-off home run over the right-field wall to lift the Gateway Grizzlies to a 5-4 win over the Windy City ThunderBolts at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Brown's big fly was the 55th of his Grizzlies career, which moves him into fourth on the Grizzlies' all-time home run list. He passed Frontier League Hall of Famer Stephen Holdren. Brown's next milestone became former Grizzlies catcher Landon Hernandez' 64 career homers, which ranked third in franchise history, and which Brown later passed on Sept. 1.
Gateway (21-29) picked up its second straight victory and a series win.
Josh Glick (1-2) earned the win in relief on two shutout innings and four strikeouts. Grizzlies starter Taso Stathopoulos allowed only one earned run (four total) over 5 2/3 innings, but did not factor in the decision. Will Anderson added 1 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Paul Russo hit his first professional home run in the sixth inning.
July 3, 2018
Trae Santos swatted his 11th home run of the season as part of a 4-for-4 performance and the Gateway Grizzlies cruised to a 12-3 win over the Windy City ThunderBolts at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Gateway (20-29) snapped a then-season-long six-game losing streak. The Grizzlies scored one run in the second inning, six in the third, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the seventh.
Windy City (16-30) scored three runs on four hits in the top of the first inning before the Grizzlies rattled off a dozen straight.
Santos added a walk, four runs and three RBIs to his four-hit night. He clubbed his two-run homer in the seventh. July 3 marked Santos' third game of 2018 in which he reached base five times.
Alec Kisena (4-2) picked up the win. He allowed three runs (all earned) and struck out three. Paul Russo reached base four times; Cody Livesay had two hits and knocked in two runs. All but one member of the Grizzlies' lineup had at least one hit.
June 6, 2018
The Miami Marlins announced that they recalled former Grizzlies pitcher Trevor Richards from Triple-A New Orleans for his second stint in the major leagues in 2018.
Richards started the Marlins' game June 6 against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Richards is an Aviston, Illinois, native and Drury University (NCAA Div. II; Springfield, Missouri) graduate. He pitched for the Grizzlies in 2015 and 2016. Fans experienced Trevor Richards Bobblehead Night on Friday, July 20 at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
After only 21 months in Miami's system, Richards made his MLB debut in April. He started five games for the Marlins and posted an 0-2 record with a 4.90 ERA.
Nate Gatter spoke with Phil Warren about Richards' chance to pitch in St. Louis:
Richards' final start in his initial tenure with Miami came on April 25 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. He struck out a career-high 10 batters in 4 2/3 shutout innings and allowed only four baserunners. Although he departed the game one out shy of the minimum five innings to receive the win, the Marlins went on to beat the Dodgers — who had three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw on the mound — in the biggest single-game MLB upset in a decade, according to Las Vegas betting odds.
Since he was optioned to the Triple-A Baby Cakes of the Pacific Coast League, Richards went 3-2 with a 2.06 ERA in six starts. In all six starts, he threw six innings or more and allowed two or fewer earned runs. He also struck out 37 batters against only four walks in 39 1/3 innings with a 0.89 WHIP. Following his recall in June, Richards did not return to the minors.
Richards is the second former Grizzlie to reach the major leagues and already has accrued the most big-league service time — Scott Patterson pitched in four MLB games in 2008, one for the New York Yankees and three for the San Diego Padres. Richards is also the first former Grizzlie to start a major-league game.
Two Grizzlies — outfielder Matt Hearn (Rockies) and starting pitcher Alec Kisena (Cardinals) — have already signed with MLB organizations this season. Gateway has sent 45 players to affiliated baseball in the franchise's 18-year existence.
June 4, 2018
After a spectacular offensive performance during the Grizzlies' six-game homestand, Gateway first baseman Trae Santos was named the Frontier League's Player of the Week.
Santos launched four home runs and tallied nine RBIs in only six games. He also hit .500 over that span.
The Barrigada, Guam, native had only one big fly this season before he homered four times in a three-game stretch. His five round-trippers then ranked in a tie for fourth-most in the Frontier League.
Santos signed with the Grizzlies prior to the season following four years in the San Diego Padres' organization. San Diego drafted Santos in the 17th round of the 2013 MLB Draft out of Troy University, an NCAA Div. I school in Alabama. He reached the Double-A San Antonio Missions in 2016.
May 27, 2018
Grizzlies outfielder Matt Hearn, who hit a team-leading .331 in 2017 and set a single-season franchise record with 30 steals, signed with the Colorado Rockies' organization.
Hearn was the first Grizzlie to sign with an MLB organization in 2018; he became the 44th in the history of the franchise.
Through 15 games this season, Hearn posted a .305 batting average with a home run — his first as a professional — and six RBIs. The 22-year-old also swiped three bases and played his typically outstanding defense in center field.
Hearn joined the Grizzlies in May 2017. After a pedestrian first two weeks with Gateway, he caught fire. He hit in 54 of his final 60 games, including a 20-game hitting streak from June 24 to July 21 that came up three games short of the Grizzlies' franchise record.
The San Jose, Calif., native played two years at Mission Junior College before he was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 24th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
Hearn finished his Grizzlies tenure with a 10-for-26 (.385) week with a double, a homer, four RBIs and two runs scored.
Across 67 games with the Rockies' organization in 2018, Hearn hit .329 with seven doubles, five triples, 27 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. After 36 games with Short Season-A Boise, Hearn was called up to the Class-A Ashville Tourists of the South Atlantic League for the final 31 games of the year.
May 11, 2018
The Gateway Grizzlies opened the 2018 season with a win over the defending Frontier League champion Schaumburg Boomers by a score of 6-2 at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
The game got started with a bang: a three-run home run from Terry McClure on 1-0 count to put the Grizzlies on top, 3-0, in the first inning.
The scoring would go on hold until the eighth inning when the Boomers made their second error of the game. Brennan Morgan hit a towering pop fly that Schaumburg third baseman Kenny Towns dropped. Blake Brown was hustling with two outs and came around to score from second base. The eighth inning didn't stop then — Brent Sakurai made the Boomers pay with a two-run single down the first base line to give the Grizzlies a 6-2 lead.
Alec Kisena (1-0) had an outstanding start for his 2018 campaign. He recorded the first six outs all by himself with strikeouts. Kisena finished the night throwing five innings, giving up four hits and two earned runs.
There were also multiple impressive debuts from Grizzlies rookies: Patrick Boyle struck out five over the course of 2 1/3 innings in relief while not giving up a hit and not allowing a run. Josh Glick also impressed: he picked up a 1 2/3 inning save in his Grizzlies debut.
May 11 marked the first time since August 6th, 2016, the Grizzlies defeated the Boomers; they had fallen in the previous seven meetings.
April 2, 2018
Former Grizzlies pitcher Trevor Richards made his MLB debut for the Miami Marlins against the Boston Red Sox. He retired Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Hanley Ramirez 1-2-3 in his first big-league inning.
Richards — an Aviston, Illinois, native — became the second Grizzlies to reach the major leagues and the first to start an MLB game.