O’FALLON, MO. – It was clear the frustration was beginning to mount for River City Rascals rightfielder Stephen Holdren, who had a horrendous opening weekend to the 2011 Frontier League season.
Sure, the Rascals won two of the three games against the Normal CornBelters, but River City’s 2010 Team MVP had just one hit in the three games (13 total at-bats), and even managed to get himself ejected from one game after arguing a third strike call he didn’t like.
Fans that have followed the Frontier League veteran throughout his five seasons in the league could easily see he wasn’t happy with how the 2011 campaign was beginning and he needed to do something to change it.
And Tuesday night, against his former mates from the Gateway Grizzlies, Holdren began that change in a big way, with a two-hit night at the plate, which included his first home run of the season, and led River City to a 7-6 win over the visiting Grizzlies.
Holdren’s two hits raised his batting average more than 100 points (from .077 to .188).
That’s still not where he’d like to be, but it was good enough to give the Rascals an early lead Tuesday night against their crosstown rivals.
Actually, it was leftfielder Chad Maddox who gave River City the lead, when he launched a sacrifice fly to center that drove in teammate Eric Williams, who’d advanced to third after a double by third baseman Chris McClendon.
That brought Holdren to the plate, looking to break his 1-for-13 start-of-the-season slump, which he did with a two-run jack off Gateway starter Adrian Garza (0-1).
The Grizzlies answered back in the top of the third, with run-scoring singles by Logan Parker and Charlie Lisk to make the score 3-2.
But River City got two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning, when catcher Danny Sawyer launched his first homer of the season, also off Garza, to make the score 5-2.
Gateway’s Parker doubled home a run in the top of the fifth to make it 5-3, but Holdren singled, and Sawyer doubled for River City to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and both later scored on RBIs by Landis Wilson and Brian Harris, to give the Rascals a 7-3 lead, which seemed like it would be more than enough to close out a win.
But the Grizzlies rallied with single runs in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings to pull within 7-6.
Gateway actually had runners reach in the ninth on a passed ball, an infield single, and two true basehits, but was only able to score the one run because of scintillating outfield throws by McClendon (for the second out of the inning) and by Holdren, his second of the game (for the final out of the game), which allowed River City to hold on for the win.
The Rascals are now 3-1 on the season, and will host game two of the three-game set against the Grizzlies (1-3), Wednesday evening at T.R. Hughes.
Former Boston Red Sox farmhand Ryne Miller will make his Rascals debut on the mound on Wednesday. He’ll get the start against Gateway’s B.J. Dail.
First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
Other Frontier League scores from Tuesday night:
Joliet Slammers 1 Windy City ThunderBolts 3
Traverse City Beach Bums 3 Washington Wild Things 10
Lake Erie Crushers 4 Rockford RiverHawks 2
Normal CornBelters 5 Florence Freedom 3
Evansville Otters 8 Southern Illinois Miners 2