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Slammers sweep Rascals on DeBruin hit in 14th

JOLIET – Get out the brooms.

Grant DeBruin’s RBI single with one out in the bottom of the 14th inning lifted the Joliet Slammers to a 2-1 victory Sunday over the River City Rascals and a sweep of their three-game Frontier League weekend series at Silver Cross Field.

“It’s always nice to get a big hit like that. We love the game too much to get it over in nine innings,” DeBruin said, referring Sunday’s game and a 17-inning game last Thursday at Southern Illinois. “It’s always nice to sweep a team, especially at home in front of our fans. They’ve been doing well, so it was big to get three wins from them.”

Joliet (9-12) and River City (13-8) played 10 innings of scoreless baseball before the Rascals scored in the top of the 11th.

Two errors by Slammers second baseman Jose Garcia put runners on second and third with one out for Josh Ludy. He singled to right field off Chase Doremus to make it 1-0. Ryan Connolly relieved and struck out Evan Crawford before retiring Curran Redal on a fly out to left field to end the threat.

The Slammers’ Russell Moldenhauer came up with two outs in the bottom of the inning. He broke his bat fouling off a changeup and then with a 3-2 count he launched a high fly ball to right field. Crawford went back to the wall and camped under it, but the ball had enough to get over the wall for a game-tying home run, Moldenhauer’s third of the season.

Moldenhauer then set the stage for DeBruin’s heroics in the 14th inning, scorching a double down the right field line. Manager Jeff Isom then lifted Moldenhauer for pinch-runner Tyler Grogg. One out later, DeBruin won the game.

“We’re not giving up, and we’re not giving in. Our pitching is able to keep us in a position where our offense can come back and win the game,” Moldenhauer said. “There wasn’t much to it [the home run]. I thought the outfielder was camped. I guess the wind shifted a little bit for it, and it just went out.”

Joliet starter Blair Walters did not figure in the decision but he pitched sensationally. He threw eight scoreless innings and struck out nine Rascals before giving way to Doremus, Connolly and Brett Zawacki. The one run scored by the Rascals was unearned. Zawacki earned his first win of the season.

The Rascals’ Tommy Mendoza, a member of the Slammers’ staff in 2011, threw seven shutout innings before giving way to his bullpen. Andy Urban, the sixth pitcher used by River City, took the loss.

“Everything was kind of working,” Walters said. “I was able to locate. My defense made some plays behind me. I was able to work around a couple of walks and we got the win and a good series sweep.”

Walters and Mendoza followed the pattern established earlier in the season, where pitching dominated. The Slammers outscored the Rascals 8-3 in the three games combined. River City had arrived at Silver Cross Field riding a seven-game winning streak.

“This was a well-pitched game on both sides,” Isom said. “Walters was outstanding, and our bullpen came in and got some big outs when they had to.

“All around, a very good, well-played game and thank goodness we have Russell [Moldenhauer] on our side. He’s a quality hitter. He understands the strike zone, and it was just a matter of time before he got a pitch that was out over the plate. He gave us a chance to play extras.”

Joliet hosts Traverse City at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday to open a three-game series.

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