SAUGET – The Gateway Grizzlies went toe-to-toe on Tuesday night against the Joliet Slammers in a game that featured 27 hits and 21 total runs before emerging victorious on Mark Vierling’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th by an 11-10 final score, improving to 10-6 with the dramatic win at Grizzlies Ballpark.

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The Grizzlies got to work immediately in the first inning against Joliet starter Andrew Dietz, as Andrew Moritz led off with a walk, and ended up scoring on an infield single by Gabe Holt thanks to a throwing error by Slammers third baseman Antonio Valdez, making the score 1-0. Kevin Krause followed with a two-run homer to right-center field, and Peter Zimmermann then crushed a solo shot to left field, with the back-to-back dingers making the score 4-0 Grizzlies.

Joliet would respond with a four-run rally in their half of the second inning, capped by a three-run home run to right field by Liam McArthur, to re-tie the score at 4-4. In the bottom of the third, the Grizzlies again hit back-to-back homers in another four-run frame, with Zimmermann clubbing his second of the contest, a three-run shot, and Jack-Thomas Wold following up with a solo homer of his own, giving Gateway an 8-4 lead.

But that lead also would not hold- Joliet scored five times in the next half inning, using an RBI double by Jeissy De La Cruz to make it 8-5, and a big, two-out error in center field with the bases loaded to score all three runners and tie the game. Later in the inning, with the bases re-loaded, a walk issued to Drew Stengren gave the Slammers a 9-8 lead.

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The Grizzlies would then respond in the fifth inning, as Wold hit a one-out double, went to third on a D.J. Stewart single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Alvarez to knot the score at 9-9. Two innings later, it was Stewart coming up with a clutch, go-ahead, two-out RBI single to give the Grizzlies a 10-9 lead.

But against Lukas Veinbergs in the top of the ninth, the Slammers would tie the score again. With runners at first and second base and none out, McArthur reached on another Grizzlies error, scoring the tying run from second. On the same play, the Slammers tried to score the lead run from first base, but Krause threw Giovanni Garbella out at the plate from foul territory to preserve the tie. Veinbergs then got out of the jam, and the game went to extra innings when the Grizzlies could not score the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

In the tenth, with the International Tiebreaker in effect putting the lead run on second base to begin the inning, Matt Hickey (1-0) induced a grounder to first base from Victor Nova leading off, moving the automatic runner to third base. He then struck out Jake Marti and got Jonathan Sierra to bounce out to second base, setting up the bottom of the tenth for the Grizzlies with the winning run at second base to start the frame.

Stewart would lead off the inning with another single, advancing Wold to third base. After Alvarez struck out, Vierling was called upon to pinch hit against David Harrison (1-1), and the second-year Grizzlie infielder hit the ball to the drawn in shortstop De La Cruz, who could not make the play cleanly, allowing Wold to score on his late throw home with the winning run to end the exciting contest.

Zimmermann and Stewart led a 14-hit Grizzlies attack on offense with three-hit nights, with the former homering twice and driving in four runs. Three other Grizzlies had multi-hit games as well, as Gateway took the opener of their six-game home stand in dramatic fashion.

The Grizzlies will seek a fourth straight win and a series victory in the middle game of the set against the Slammers on Wednesday, May 29, at 6:30 p.m. CT. Deylen Miley will make his first home start for the Grizzlies against Joliet’s Jake Armstrong at Grizzlies Ballpark.

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