SAUGET – The Gateway Grizzlies trailed the New England Knockouts 12-7 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning on Independence Day at Grizzlies Ballpark, but plated 10 unanswered runs, including six in a dramatic bottom of the seventh inning to go ahead for good, recording a massive, 17-12 victory on Thursday night, and clinching the series victory in front of a season-best crowd of 5,071 excited fans.

The game was a true offensive slugfest from the very beginning- after John Cristino homered to open the scoring off Kaleb Hill in the top of the first inning, the Grizzlies responded with a three-run bottom of the first, with D.J. Stewart tying the game on an RBI groundout, Peter Zimmermann making it 2-1 on a sacrifice fly, and David Maberry crushing his first homer as a Grizzlie, a solo shot to left field for a 3-1 lead.

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A pair of walks and an error in the top of the second inning led to New England scoring two runs to even the score on an RBI single by Austin White, but in the bottom of the third, Gateway used the long ball to answer right back- after Gabe Holt was hit by a pitch, Stewart came up and blasted a two-run home run to left-center field to make it 5-3, marking his fourth straight game with a dinger. Later in the inning, Kyle Gaedele crushed a solo shot over the left field fence for his third homer of the season, putting the Grizzlies up 6-3.

New England answered in a big way in the fourth, scoring a whopping eight runs in the frame, including home runs by both Cristino (his second of the game) and Brady West, a bases-clearing double by Jake Boone, and a two-out RBI single by Ramon Jimenez in addition to another error by the Grizzlies.

Down 11-6 after the frame, the largest allowed by their pitching staff this season, the Grizzlies would use a leadoff walk, two wild pitches, and an RBI groundout by Tate Wargo to get within 11-7, but after New England got that run back on a pair of two out hits in the top of the fifth, including an RBI single by Boone, Gateway was down 12-7 heading to the bottom of the fifth.

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The comeback started there, as Victor Castillo brought in a run with a two-out RBI double off Mike McKenna to make it 12-8, and after a scoreless bottom of the sixth, the Grizzlies entered the decisive seventh inning. Maberry was hit by a pitch to kick off the frame, and Gaedele singled, forcing a New England pitching change. Against Kyle Petri (0-1), Castillo sacrificed the runners to second and third base with the first out, and Petri was called for a balk, making the score 12-9 and bringing the tying run to the plate after Cole Brannen walked.

Jose Alvarez then worked a nine-pitch walk to load the bases for Abdiel Diaz, who singled to right field to bring in another run, with a throwing error by Jimenez on a high peg over the catcher at home plate scoring Brannen and bringing the Grizzlies within 12-11.

Wargo then came up with runners at second and third base, and delivered a go-ahead, two-run single over the drawn-in infield to put the Grizzlies ahead 13-12. A wild pitch later in the inning would cap the frame by scoring Wargo from third base for a 14-12 lead. The Grizzlies were not done, either, as they plated three more runs in the eighth for the final margin on RBI singles by Alvarez and Zimmermann along with a fielder’s choice off the bat of Wargo.

The 17 runs plated by Gateway were a season-high, with six different Grizzlies recording multi-hit games. Stewart finished 3-for-6 with three RBIs, and Wargo came off the bench for a career-best four RBIs as well as two hits. Diaz overcame a slower start to finish 2-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs, while Maberry, Gaedele, and Castillo also had two-hit nights to help lead the Grizzlies to the enormous comeback win.

Gateway will now look to ride the offensive momentum into the weekend as their home stand continues tomorrow night, Friday, July 5, against the Schaumburg Boomers. Collin Sullivan will get the start against the Boomers’ Jackson Hickert in the first of 12 regular season games between the two West Division rivals at Grizzlies Ballpark, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT.

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