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Rascals outslug Grizzlies, teams now tied for 1st place in Frontier League West

Members of the River City Rascals congratulate teammate Saxon Butler (33) after his second-inning grand slam gave the Rascals a 6-1 lead Friday night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.
Members of the River City Rascals congratulate teammate Saxon Butler (33) after his second-inning grand slam gave the Rascals a 6-1 lead Friday night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.
Image courtesy River City Rascals

The River City Rascals sure looked happy to be back home at T.R. Hughes Ballpark in O'Fallon, Mo., Friday night.

The Rascals played a midweek series in Schaumburg, Ill., against the reigning Frontier League champion Schaumburg Boomers and lost two of three games there, including back-to-back shutouts on Wednesday and Thursday.

But once the club got home, River City found the life in its bats once again, banging out a season-high 16 hits and scoring a season-high 15 runs in a 15-9 slugfest against the crosstown rival Gateway Grizzlies.

Five Rascal batters had at least two hits, including centerfielder Curran Redal, who went 4-for-5 and scored two runs.

But the true hitting stars of the night were third baseman Tyler Ard and first baseman Saxon Butler, who both blasted grand slam home runs for River City, which improved its record to 19-11 and moved back into a tie with the Grizzlies for first place in the Frontier League West Division standings.

Butler's blast -- his fifth of the season -- came in the bottom of the second inning, off Gateway starter and eventual losing pitcher Ja'Vaun West.

It was part of a six-run frame, which gave the Rascals an early 6-1 lead.

Left fielder Brian Hansen, who like Ard and Butler, had two hits in the game, launched the first professional home run of his career in the third inning -- a two-run shot off West -- that made the score 8-1 River City.

The Grizzlies got back-to-back home runs from Niko Vasquez (two-run shot) and Ben Waldrip (solo blast) in the top of the fourth to get back into the game, and even added another run in the fifth to make the score 8-5.

But the Rascals put together another six-run inning in the bottom half of the fifth, which was capped by Ard's grand slam -- his fifth homer of the year also -- to go back out in front 14-5.

That wasn't the end of the scoring though, as Gateway put up three runs in the top of the sixth and River City countered with a single run of its own to make the score 15-8.

One more Gateway run in the ninth made it 15-9, but that was just too little, too late for the Grizzlies, who lost their second game in a row to fall to 20-12 on the season.

Rookie righthander Ethan Carter (2-2) got the win, after going five innings and holding Gateway to just five runs (four earned) on five hits an one walk.

The University of North Carolina-Pembroke product did bag a season-high five strikeouts to earn his second straight win, after moving back in to the Rascals' rotation just this week.

The 11 runs allowed was the most in any single start for Gateway's West (4-1), who suffered his first loss of the season.

In fact, West had only allowed seven runs all season (five previous starts) before getting banged around by River City on Friday.

On Saturday, the Rascals and Grizzlies will play a split-city, day-night doubleheader. Game 1 will be at Gateway's home park, GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., at 12:05 p.m.

Game 2 will then be back at T.R. Hughes, Saturday evening. First pitch for that game is slated for 7:05 p.m.