The Gateway Grizzlies used a nine-run fifth inning to defeat the Florence Freedom 12-2 on Tuesday night at GCS Ballpark.
The Grizzlies victory (3-8) snapped a four-game losing streak. Meanwhile, the loss for the Freedom (5-5) extended their losing streak to four games.
The game was scoreless in the fifth inning until the Freedom jumped out in front. Former Grizzlies’ catcher Michael Pair doubled off RHP JaVaun West to begin the inning. After Daniel Fraga walked, Freedom leadoff man Austin Newell doubled down the right field line to plate Pair and give Florence a 1-0 lead. Fraga, who advanced to third on the Newell double, later scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Luce to give Florence another run.
The Grizzlies’ offense broke out for nine runs in the bottom half of the inning. Two singles and an error loaded the bases with one out for Madison Beaird. Beaird delivered an RBI single to plate Grant Buckner and Shawn Payne followed with a single to plate Ben Waldrip and tie the game at two.
With the game tied, Gateway put together some two-out magic. Blake Brown hit a two-run single with the bases loaded to give the Grizzlies a 4-2 lead. After Richard Siegel walked to load the bases once again, Grant Buckner lifted a high fly ball to shallow left field that dropped in between the Florence shortstop and left fielder. That allowed all three runs to score and Waldrip put the exclamation point on the inning with an opposite-field home run to plate Buckner. The Grizzlies led 9-2 at the end of the inning.
Gateway put together another two-out rally in the sixth inning to extend the lead. Four walks and two hit batters helped the Grizzlies tack on three additional runs.
West (2-0) allowed two runs over seven strong innings to earn the victory. Florence right-hander Casey Henn (1-2) took the loss after allowing nine runs (two earned) in five innings of work.
The Grizzlies and Freedom continue their series Wednesday night at GCS Ballpark. RHP Tyler Thompson (0-1) will take the mound for Gateway and the Freedom will counter with RHP Chuck Weaver (2-0). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.