SAUGET – In a season filled with difficult, close losses, the Gateway Grizzlies lost perhaps their toughest game yet, dropping an 8-7 decision at home to the New England Knockouts at Grizzlies Ballpark on Tuesday night.

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The Grizzlies’ newly-resurgent offense was in control early against Knockouts starter Liam O’Sullivan (2-5), with D.J. Stewart getting the home team on the board with a two-run home run to right field in the first inning, and Kevin Krause following in the second inning with an RBI double, putting Gateway up 3-0. But Lukas Veinbergs would surrender three runs in the top of the third to the Knockouts, permitting three hits and plunking two batters, to reset the game at 3-3.

Gateway would keep on scoring, re-taking the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third on RBI singles by Peter Zimmermann and Krause at 5-3. Zimmermann’s second straight RBI single in the fourth inning would make the score 6-3 in favor of the Grizzlies.

But that lead also would not hold. Jake Boone hit a solo home run in the fifth to make it 6-4, and in the sixth, A leadoff double kicked off what became a two-run inning to tie the score, with J.R. DiSarcina’s infield RBI single making it 6-5, and a costly passed ball with two outs allowing DiSarcina to score from third base to make it a 6-6 game.

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Alec Whaley (1-1) then surrendered a go-ahead solo homer to right field by Jalen Garcia in the seventh that made it 7-6 New England, and the Knockouts would score a run without a hit in the eighth off Clarke Davenport thanks to a hit batter and two walks plus an RBI groundout, going ahead 8-6.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Grizzlies loaded the bases with no one out, and closed to within 8-7 on a subsequent walk by Abdiel Diaz. After a pitching change, Gabe Holt hit a ball hard up the middle, but it was caught near the turf on a line by Reeves Martin, who then threw to first base, with Brady West then tossing the ball to second base for a stunning, inning-ending triple play.

In the ninth, Zimmermann walked to put the tying run on base and the winning run at the plate, and with two outs, Jack-Thomas Wold bid for a walk-off home run with a drive to deep right field. But it was caught right in front of the wall for the final out, missing the seismic dinger by mere inches, and sending the Grizzlies to the stunning, heartbreaking defeat.

The Grizzlies out-hit the Knockouts 15-12 in the game, with Holt and Zimmermann finishing with three hits apiece, and Krause, Zimmermann, and Stewart also driving in multiple runs in the contest.

Gateway will look to circle the wagons and regroup in the middle game of the series against the Knockouts on Wednesday, July 3, at 7:05 p.m. Deylen Miley will start the contest for the Grizzlies, opposed by Matt Cronin for New England at Grizzlies Ballpark.

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