SAUGET, Ill. — The Gateway Grizzlies were one strike away from a series-opening win Tuesday night, but a bloop single dropped in left field to tie the game and the Florence Freedom went on to win 4-3 in 11 innings at GCS Credit Union Ballpark.
Gateway (8-8) has played extra innings in five of its 16 games this season — 31.3 percent of the time — and is 2-3 in extra-inning contests in 2019.
Luke Lowery gave the Grizzlies a third-inning lead with an RBI double and doubled the advantage with a solo home run in the sixth. He finished 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. Since a 1-for-20 start, Lowery has rebounded to a team-best 10-game hitting streak. Over those 10 games, he is 15-for-41 (.366) with three home runs, three doubles, and eight RBIs.
Grizzlies starter Lucas Lanphere was in line for the win when he departed after five scoreless innings. He turned it over to the bullpen, and Grizzlies relievers Jason Seever, Patrick Boyle, and Dakota Smith threw a shutout frame apiece to take the Grizzlies to the ninth inning ahead 2-0.
Grant Black, who had converted all three save opporunities in 2019 before Tuesday, pitched the Grizzlies within a strike of the victory with Florence runners at second and third. Freedom outfielder Isaac Benard floated the two-strike pitch into shallow left field near the foul line and Grizzlies shortstop Brent Sakurai could not quite pull the ball in with a sliding backhanded effort.
Tuesday marked the first time this season the Grizzlies have lost a game they led after five innings (previously 7-0) and only the second time they have lost a game in which they scored the first run (previously 5-1).
Florence (9-6) moved into first place with the win.
Jamey Smart continued his fantastic stretch of play with a pinch-hit RBI single to pull the Grizzlies within a run in the bottom of the 11th, but he was stranded as the potential tying run at first base to end the game. Since last Wednesday (May 22), Smart has appeared in four games (two of them starts): Over that span, he is 7-for-9 with a home run, two doubles, and seven RBIs.
Gateway and Florence are scheduled to continue their three-game series at 7:05 p.m. CDT Wednesday at GCS Credit Union Ballpark in game two of the Grizzlies' six-game homestand. Gateway opening night starter Jordan Barrett is slated to pitch.
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.