O’FALLON, Mo. - The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, surged ahead with five unearned eighth inning runs to beat the River City Rascals 12-10 on Sunday at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.
Rascals catcher Joe Staley opened the scoring by leading off the second inning with a home run straightaway to center field, followed by a one-out two-run homer to the left field bleachers by Blaise Fernandez for a 3-0 lead. Mike Schwartz answered in the third with a two-run long ball to the left field seats with the wind blowing out to cut the deficit to 3-2.
River City added three more tallies in the third on a two-out, two-run triple by Evan Crawford and an RBI single by Fernandez to extend their lead to 6-2. The Belters got a run back with an RBI single by Pat McKenna in the fourth inning, scoring Richard Lucas after he reached with a walk and stole second.
The Rascals registered their third home run of the game when Brian Hansen went long to right center to lead off the fourth inning and build the advantage to 7-3. Jhiomar Veras recorded the second Belters homer to lead off the fifth to shrink the deficit to 7-4, and Richard Lucas tied the contest at 7-7 in the same frame with a three-run drive to the left field stands.
River City gained an 8-7 lead in the fifth when Staley drew a lead-off walk, went to second on an errant pickoff throw, stole third and scored on a Crawford flare over the right side of a drawn-in infield. The scoreboard settled down briefly, but Crawford sent the Rascals ahead 10-7 with a two-run homer to left with two outs in the seventh inning for the seventh combined home run of the contest.
Yet another big fly in the eighth gave the CornBelters a 12-10 lead as Schwartz clubbed his second homer of the day, a three-run drive to right center, after an error scored two earlier tallies to give the Belters five unearned runs in the inning.
Charley Short (6-1) earned the win in relief while Eric Anderson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his first save. Nick Kennedy (3-2) took the loss.
The series continues Monday with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch in O’Fallon in a mound matchup of right-handers, Normal’s Cullen Babin (5-4, 4.27 ERA) and River City’s Tommy Mendoza (4-2, 2.68). Pre-game at www.normalbaseball.com begins at 6:50.