After a less than fun road trip through Illinois and Indiana last week, in which it lost four of six games, the Gateway Grizzlies showed they were very happy to be back home at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., Friday night, by blasting three home runs and cruising to an 8-3 win over the Lake Erie Crushers.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Grizzlies, who remained tied for first place in the Frontier League West Division with the crosstown rival River City Rascals, who rallied for a 9-8 victory over the Traverse City Beach Bums Friday night.
Shortstop Michael Wing, right fielder Richard Seigel, and left fielder Xavier Macklin each hit a two-run homer to back Grizzlie starter Tucker Jensen (4-0), who gained the win on the mound after allowing just three runs and six hits in seven-plus innings of work.
Jensen, a 24-year-old righthander from Ormond Beach, Fla., struck out seven batters for the second consecutive start and became Gateway's third four-game winner this season.
Wing's two-run blast -- his fifth of the season -- came in the bottom of the first inning, one pitch after a pass ball charged to Lake Erie catcher Emmanuel Quiles allowed Gateway's Madison Beaird to score the first run of the game.
Seigel also took advantage of a 1-0 pitch with a man on in the third inning, blasting his third homer of the season to give the Grizzlies a 5-0 lead.
Macklin then made it a trifecta, when he jumped on the first pitch he saw in the fourth, for his fourth homer of the season to make the score 7-0 Gateway.
The Grizzlies added a run in the fifth, on an RBI groundout by Seigel, making the score 8-0. Gateway got all eight runs off Lake Erie starter Mickey Jannis.
The Crushers didn't get on the board until the seventh, then also added two more runs in the eighth. But that wasn't nearly enough to overcome the homer barrage and Jensen's sensational starting pitching.
Rookie righthander Tyler Thompson, who was just signed by the Grizzles Friday afternoon, made his professional pitching debut and tossed two scoreless innings, while allowing only one hit and three strike outs, to close out the Gateway win.
Game 2 of the three-game set between the Grizzlies and Crushers is slated for Saturday evening, with righty Ja'Vaun West (4-0, 2.02 ERA) getting the start for Gateway.
First pitch on Saturday is set for 7:05 p.m.