Shortstop Michael Wing had four hits, two RBIs, and scored three runs to lead the slumping Gateway Grizzlies to a critical 8-1 win over the Evansville Otters, Sunday night at Bosse Field in Evansville, Ind.
Gateway (46-35), which had lost 11 of its previous 16 games and dropped from the No. 1 overall seed and team with the best record in the entire Frontier League to the No. 4 seed -- a spot that would barely qualify the Grizzlies for the playoffs, should the standings stay that way over the remaining 15 games of the season.
Evansville (39-41), which is fighting just to stay alive in the playoff hunt at all, won the first two games of the series on Friday and Saturday, but fell to 6 1/2 games behind Gateway for that fourth and final spot, following Sunday's loss.
The Grizzlies, who are now three games behind the Schaumburg Boomers for first place in the West Division, still own a one-game lead of the Southern Illinois Miners and a two-game lead over the Florence Freedom -- the two closest teams behind Gateway in the wild-card hunt.
Slugger Jon Myers also contributed to Gateway's winning effort by blasting his league-leading 19th home run of the season to lead off the second inning.
It was one of the few leads the Grizzlies held all weekend. And it didn't even last very long, as Evansville tied the score at 1, with a two-out run-scoring single by third baseman Steve Marino.
In the third inning is when Wing, Gateway's newly-acquired shortstop in a trade with the Joliet Slammers, began to make his presence felt.
First, he gave the Grizzlies the lead for good with one out in the third, when he doubled home teammate Jonathan Johnson.
Then the Pasadena, Calif., native raced home on a single by Chris McClendon to make the score 3-1 Gateway.
In the fifth inning, Wing led off with a single, then eventually scored on a two-out hit by Jose Flores. That made the score 4-1 Gateway.
The eighth inning was the big one for the Grizzlies though, that's when they scored four times, thanks to a solo homer by Jet Butler (No. 13), an RBI double by Johnson, who later scored on the third double of the night from Wing, who then scored the final run of the night on a double by Landon Hernandez.
The eight runs scored on Sunday were the most for Gateway since it scored 11 times in a win over the Rockford Aviators 10 days ago.
Rookie pitcher Jake Stephens (4-2) made the start, and allowed just the one Evansville run in six strong innings to get the win on the mound for the Grizzlies, who will get a much-needed day off on Monday, before traveling to Pennsylvania for a three-game series at CONSOL Energy Field against the Washington Wild Things.
Righty Tucker Jensen (6-6) will make the start for the Grizzlies in a game that is scheduled to start at 6:05 p.m. central time.
GATEWAY GRIZZLIES REMAINING SCHEDULE
August 20 at Washington Wild Things ....... 6:05 p.m.
August 21 at Washington Wild Things ....... 6:05 p.m.
August 22 at Washington Wild Things ....... 6:05 p.m.
August 23 vs. Windy City ThunderBolts .... 7:05 p.m.
August 24 vs. Windy City ThunderBolts .... 7:05 p.m.
August 25 vs. Windy City ThunderBolts .... 6:05 p.m.
August 27 vs. Southern Illinois Miners ...... 6:35 p.m.
August 28 vs. Southern Illinois Miners ...... 6:35 p.m.
August 29 vs. Southern Illinois Miners ...... 6:35 p.m.
August 30 vs. Rockford Aviators ............... 7:05 p.m.
August 31 vs. Rockford Aviators ............... 7:05 p.m.
September 1 vs. Rockford Aviators ........... 7:05 p.m.
September 3 at Southern Illinois Miners .... 7:05 p.m.
September 4 at Southern Illinois Miners .... 7:05 p.m.
September 5 at Southern Illinois Miners .... 7:05 p.m.