O'FALLON--The River City Rascals suffered their first series sweep of the season on Thursday night at CarShield Field, losing the finale to the Normal CornBelters by a final score of 9-5. The Belters scored early and often, taking advantage of four Rascals errors to take the win with relative ease. Normal starting pitcher Matt Portland (2-1) was outstanding, going six innings, allowing two hits and two runs while striking out seven. He took a perfect game into the fifth inning and a no-hitter into the sixth.
The CornBelters got off to a great start by scoring two runs in the first inning on RBI singles from Tony Holton and Andrew Godbold. They added a run in the third inning on Chris Iriart's solo home run, and scored three runs in the fifth in a disastrous frame defensively for the Rascals, who committed three errors in the inning. Normal jumped out to an 8-0 lead after a Sam Vega RBI double and a run-scoring single from Santiago Chirino in the sixth inning.
The Rascals got on the board with a two-run homer from Mike Jurgella in the bottom half of the sixth, after Dylan Woods recorded the first River City hit earlier in the frame. The Rascals got another two-run blast from Braxton Martinez in the seventh, cutting the lead to 8-4. Both teams added a run in the ninth to bring to final score to 9-5.
Rascals starter Scott Grist (2-2) took the loss, allowing eight runs, only five of which were earned, in six innings. He walked two and struck out four. Rascals first baseman Clint Freeman's hitting streak ended at 12 games, but his on-base streak remains alive, reaching 14 games.
The Rascals (14-9) look to shake-off the rough start to the homestand as they begin a three game weekend set against the Evansville Otters starting tomorrow night, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 pm CT. Lucas Laster will make the start for the Rascals.