Behind McIntyre and Robinson, Windy City ThunderBolts bomb the Gateway Grizzlies

Behind McIntyre and Robinson, Windy City ThunderBolts bomb the Gateway Grizzlies

SAUGET, Ill. – The Gateway Grizzlies and the Windy City ThunderBolts have been going in different directions this season.
 
The Grizzlies entered Sunday evening’s Frontier League game at GCS Ballpark on a five-game win streak to sit atop the West Division standings. Windy City was in the midst of a six-game skid and had lost 10 of its last 11.
 
If but for a day, the ThunderBolts turned things around on Sunday. Windy City scored four runs in the first and fourth innings on its way to a 17-4 rout.
 
“Of course you’re not going to do this every day, but the guys are capable of hitting the ball well and pitching well,” said Windy City manager Ron Biga, whose team pounded out 21 hits in front of 2,872 fans. “For whatever reason, we get a good pitching game, we don’t hit. We hit, we don’t get a good pitch game. We do both and we field bad. It’s just been a combination of things.”
 
Center fielder Ryan McIntyre homered twice in the offensive explosion. The former Florida Marlins prospect

Windy City Thunderbolts center fielder Ryan McIntyre

drove in four runs on a 4-for-5 day before leaving in the eighth inning with a left wrist injury. McIntyre dove for a Cole Bieser blooper and landed awkwardly on his glove hand. Although the Bolts were up by 12 runs at the time, Biga said McIntyre always plays at full speed regardless of the score. McIntyre, who missed six weeks earlier in the year with a fractured left hand, was taken to a local hospital for X-rays after Sunday’s game.

 
“His glove got caught on the turf when he dove and got bent back,” Biga said of McIntyre’s injury on Sunday. Bieser, who had a similar injury while in college, said he would’ve taken a bloop single instead of his double to know that McIntyre is OK, but added that “it didn’t look good.”
 
The ThunderBolts (26-47) from Crestwood in the southwest suburbs of Chicago also got a solo home from catcher Michael Allen and left fielder Kyle Robinson went 4-for-6 with six RBI.
Kyle Robinson
 
“We’ve had a rough time this year, to say the least, but this was good for us to show that we can still battle and we have the ability,” Robinson said. “To have (McIntyre) behind me in the lineup is some good protection and we drove in some runs. It was definitely a fun night.”
 
The Grizzlies are in the middle of a tight playoff push, so bouncing back from the loss after dropping out of first place is important.
 
“It’s August. Every game is kind of a playoff game,” said Grizzlies manager Phil Warren, who picked up his 400th career win on Friday against Normal. “It’s not a pressure situation, it’s just a reality. You have to win more than you lose from here on out and be able to shrug off a loss like or a 5-4 loss. You have to be able to forget and come back ready to win the next day.”
 
The run support was more than enough for Bolts starter Travis Tingle (7-5). The Louisville native allowed two runs and struck out six over five innings. It was much better than his previous outing at Gateway on July 23, 2013 when Tingle gave up eight runs in three innings.
 
“It was a bit of redemption for him,” Biga said. “I know he really wanted to put a good showing out and keep us in the game. After the first four runs, they get one back and then we get out of it without anything. We talk about shut-down innings, it’s a tough ballpark to pitch in. To come back and not give up any runs after that was good work on his part.”
 
The Grizzlies used five pitchers, including infielder Josh Adams in the ninth. Starter Aaron Newcomb (9-5) came in as the league leader in wins, but struggled as the ThunderBolts tagged him for four runs in the first inning. A two-run homer from McIntyre over the scoreboard in right field prompted a trip to the mound from Gateway pitching coach Randy Martz. McIntyre’s towering blast scored Robinson, who drove in two with his league-leading 27th double.
 
“To get out front and give Tingle some confidence was huge,” said Robinson, who raised his average to .300 on the season.
 
Whatever Martz told Newcomb worked because the Centralia High School alum and former Los Angeles Angels prospect retired the next three batters in order. But it didn’t last.
 
The ThunderBolts added a run in the top of the second on a leadoff homer from catcher Michael Allen. The Grizzlies (44-29) got a run back in the bottom of the second when Michael Wing led off with a solo blast over the center field wall. But McIntyre led off the third with another towering shot over the right field wall.
 
“Ryan has been working hard in (batting practice) and swinging the ball well,” Biga said. “His hard work paid off.”
 
The Grizzlies loaded the bases in the bottom of the third on consecutive singles from Madison Beaird and Michael Johnson and a walk issued to TJ Bennett, but they could not push a run across. Landon Hernandez lined to third and then Tingle got Wing to ground to third to end the inning.
 
Newcomb’s struggles continued in the fourth, issuing a leadoff walk to Andrew Brauer before Michael Torres singled. Torres was 3-for-4 as all 10 Bolts to make a plate appearance recorded a hit.
 
“His fastball command was not good,” Warren said of Newcomb. “Every fastball he threw got barreled or missed in the strike zone up. He’s going to have to find a way to regroup. We need him.
 
“Hopefully he sleeps on it and comes back ready to work. He and Randy can get back to progress.”
Former East Carolina pitcher Brett Mabry made his
professional debut on Sunday with the Gateway Grizzlies.
 
Warren went to rookie Brett Mabry, who was signed on Saturday and made his pro debut on Sunday. On Mabry’s third pitch, Robinson reached on an infield single. McIntyre then hit an RBI double to left-center and scored on a soft grounder by Davidson Peguero.
 
“They did some serious damage, no doubt,” Warren said of Robinson and McIntyre. “They’re good hitters and they did their job really well.”
 
The Grizzlies cut into the large Windy City lead in the fourth on Johnson’s RBI single that scored first baseman Ben Waldrip. The Bolts answered in the fifth.
 
A soft pop-up down the right field line from Windy City shortstop Garrett Carey got by a diving Bennett and into the corner for a lead-off triple in the fifth. He was driven in on a two-out single from Robinson.
 
“Win the inning,” Biga stated his team’s mantra. “Somebody scores two, score three. If you win inning by inning, you’re going to win. That was the goal.”
 
The Grizzlies kept chipping away with Richard Seigel and Bieser getting consecutive singles. Seigel scored on Beaird’s sacrifice fly to right. Bieser then came in on a Johnson single to center. Johnson reached five times and drove in two runs.
 
“It’s always good to have a guy like that on consistently,” Warren said of Johnson, who added two stolen bases. “Unfortunately we couldn’t muster anything behind him.”
 
The top seven teams in the Frontier League – division leaders Washington and River City, Gateway, Evansville, Schaumburg, Southern Illinois and Lake Eeir – are separated by just three games with six teams qualifying for the playoffs, but Gateway is in that group and is in good shape for the postseason. The Grizzlies will try to right the ship in the series finale Monday night with the first pitch set for 7:05.
 
“We just want to get it,” Warren said of the playoffs. “Anything can happen if you get in. We still have Schaumburg (on the schedule), we have Lake Erie, we play Washington six times down the stretch here, so our fate is in our own hands.”