SAUGET, Ill. — The Gateway Grizzlies hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the seventh (and final) inning of game two of their doubleheader Wednesday to force extra innings, then scored six runs in the bottom of the 11th to keep the game alive, but ultimately fell 14-11 to the Evansville Otters after dropping game one 4-1 at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Brent Sakurai, who had not homered since Sept. 2, 2017, went deep twice in the nightcap. He had the game-tying solo home run in the seventh inning after Jamey Smart hit a pinch-hit solo shot immediately prior.
Evansville (7-4) scored six runs in the top of the 11th inning. Gateway (5-6) scored three of its own, but was down to its final strike when Luke Lowery connected on a three-run dinger to tie the game again.
Sakurai (0-1), the Grizzlies' regular shortstop, appeared in his fifth professional game on the mound and his first in 2019. He took the loss. Ryan Gowens, the last available Grizzlies relief pitcher, was pitching before Sakurai moved to the mound. Gunnar Buhner moved to shortstop and Gowens — with the Grizzlies out of position players — manned right field for the game's final two innings and took an at-bat in the 12th. (He struck out looking.)
Gateway had the potential winning run at third base with one out in the ninth and with no outs in the 10th, but failed to score.
Connor Owings continued his hot stretch with a solo home run and RBI double in the nightcap. The game — originally scheduled for seven innings — went 12 frames, took four hours and 24 minutes to play, and ended at 12:22 a.m. CDT Thursday. It was the Grizzlies' second-longest game this season by innings and time (13 innings, 4:37 in Joliet on May 15) and their fourth extra-inning game in their last seven.
Game one, by comparison, was painfully ordinary. Evansville scored in the first and the Grizzlies answered in the second; the Otters added two in the third and tacked on one more in the fifth for the victory.
Gateway and Evansville will finish their three-game series Thursday at 7:05 p.m. CDT.
ABOUT THE GATEWAY GRIZZLIES: The Gateway Grizzlies are a professional baseball team, located a mere 100-yards from I-255 (10 minutes from downtown St. Louis). The Grizzlies offer baseball fans entertainment, the likes of which are difficult to find - affordable, family, fun in the comfortable GCS Credit Union Ballpark with a great view of the St. Louis skyline. For tickets or general information please visit gatewaygrizzlies.com or call 618.337.3000.
ABOUT THE FRONTIER LEAGUE: The Frontier League is a professional, independent baseball organization. Since its inception, the Frontier League has provided millions of fans to a fun and exciting baseball experience within the American Midwest. Consisting of 10 teams in two divisions and 96 game schedules, the league is recognized for the amount of talented athletes that are picked up by various MLB teams every year.