O’FALLON, MO. – It’s probably not a good idea to disappoint River City Rascals utility man Bobby Burk.
The usually affable young man from Riverside, Calif., whose main job is to play in the field wherever the Rascals might need him on a nightly basis, didn’t take too kindly to a questionable umpire’s decision in the third inning Friday night at T.R. Hughes Ballpark, in which an apparent home run ball was ruled foul.
Burk and Rascals manager Steve Brook both argued the call with homeplate umpire Don Baumann to no avail.
But rather than sulk, Burk made the visiting Traverse City Beach Bums pay in his next two at-bats.
First, he drilled an RBI basehit that got the Rascals on the board in the fifth inning. Then two innings later, Burk smashed a three-run homer into the leftfield bleachers for what proved to be the game-winning blow in a 5-2 River City win.
“It felt good,” Burk said. “Just having fun out there. I’ve been trying to simplify my at-bats. The last couple of weeks, I’ve been not coming through, choking you could say. But it just clicked for me today.”
Burk’s blast made a winner of reliever Martin DeWald (1-0), who came in the top of the seventh and retired the only batter he faced, Traverse City’s Jose Vargas, to end a Beach Bum rally.
River City led 2-1 heading into the seventh, but Traverse City leadoff man Zack Pace worked a walk and came around to score on a line-shot double into the rightfield gap by leftfielder J.T. Hall.
Hall was still on second, when DeWald got Vargas to fly out to center.
But the game didn’t stay tied for long, as Rascal catcher Danny Sawyer and shortstop Brian Harris each reached base with one out, setting up Burk with a chance to right what appeared to be a wrong call from earlier in the game.
And the River City second-year player didn’t miss his chance, launching his second homer of the season off Traverse City’s Scott Dunn, which sent the paid crowd of 2,145 Rascals fans into a frenzy.
“I got myself into a hitter’s count, 2-1, and he threw me a fastball in,” Burk said. “And I just put the barrel on it and took care of it.”
Third baseman Chris McClendon drove in River City’s other run, and closer Derrick Miramontes pitched a perfect ninth for his first save of the season, as the Rascals improved to 7-6 on the season.
Traverse City fell to 5-8 on the year, and lost its first game of a series for the fifth time this season.
The two teams wlll be back at it on Saturday at T.R. Hughes.
Righthander Sean Toler (0-1) will get the start for the Rascals, while fellow righty Eric Thomas (0-2) will get the ball for the Beach Bums.
First pitch on Saturday is set for 7:05 p.m.
Other Frontier League scores on Friday:
RockfordRiverHawks 2 Gateway Grizzlies 8
EvansvilleOtters 3 JolietSlammers 5
FlorenceFreedom 9 Windy City ThunderBolts 2
WashingtonWild Things 1 NormalCornBelters 7
Lake ErieCrushers 4 Southern IllinoisMiners 5