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Five-run fifth carries Grizzlies to win over Rascals

Leadoff man Jonathan Johnson is congratulated by manager Phil Warren after blasting a two-run homer in Saturday's 5-3 Gateway Grizzlies win over the River City Rascals.
Leadoff man Jonathan Johnson is congratulated by manager Phil Warren after blasting a two-run homer in Saturday's 5-3 Gateway Grizzlies win over the River City Rascals. Image courtesy Gateway Grizzlies

The Gateway Grizzlies got a two-run homer from leadoff man Jonathan Johnson and a three-run homer from cleanup man Landon Hernandez -- both in the same inning -- to power past the archrival River City Rascals for a 5-3 win, Saturday afternoon at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill.

The Grizzlies and Rascals were scheduled to play their annual "Arch Rivalry" split-city, day-night doubleheader, with one game at GCS and a second game at River City's home park, T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo.

But the second game was postponed due to a severe thunderstorm that hit the O'Fallon area Saturday night.
So instead of playing the "Arch Rivalry" doubleheader on Saturday, Gateway and River City will play a traditional twi-night doubleheader at T.R. Hughes, on Sunday, with the first pitch of Game 1 scheduled for 2:05 p.m.

The Grizzlies hope to get off to a better start in the two games on Sunday than they did in the first two games of this four-game weekend series, which both saw the Rascals grab early leads against Gateway's starting pitcher.

On Friday night, River City scored six times in the second inning to grab a 6-1 lead and even went up 8-1, before eventually claiming a 15-9 victory.

On Saturday, the Rascals scored twice in the top of the first off Grizzlie starter Tyler Thompson, a rookie from Cuba, Mo., who was making the first start of his professional baseball career.

Saturday was also Thompson's 22nd birthday.

And fortunately, his Gateway teammates made sure it would be a happy birthday for Thompson, who earned the first win of his professional career, thanks in large part to the five-run fifth inning and two home run blasts by Johnson and Hernandez.

Johnson's clout was his first of the season, while Hernandez, whose struggled to find his power stroke this season, picked up his second roundtripper of the year.

Thompson left after giving up those first two runs and five hits, with no walks and four strikeouts.

Relievers Luke Westphal and Aaron Baker got the Grizzlies to the ninth, which then belonged to closer Richard Barrett, who threw a scoreless ninth to earn his ninth save of the season.

The probable starters on Sunday for Gateway are righthanders Dejai Oliver (2-3, 6.09 ERA) and Aaron Newcomb (5-1, 2.91 ERA), while River City will likely counter with rookie lefty Tommy Organ (1-0, 1.92 ERA) and second-year righty Ray Hanson (4-0, 3.00 ERA).