07/06/2018 10:00 PM -
NORMAL, Ill. (July 6, 2018) – The Normal CornBelters (21-25) and the Schaumburg Boomers (25-23) traded punches all night in the series opener on Friday night, but Chris Iriart got the knock punch with a two-out home run in the eighth to give Normal a 6-5 victory.
"It was a great crowd, it was awesome to see the energy and feed off their energy. That's hats off to our marketing department, sales team, front office, ownership, and everybody getting out to get people at the ballpark,” said Manager Billy Horn. “We have been playing pretty good baseball, win or lose it has been very exciting."
"Tonight I just had to battle, didn't really have all my pitches and I had to make it work,” said Mark Hendricks. And battled he did.
After sliding into the rotation last weekend, Hendricks threw another great game and found a way out of trouble every inning in the series opener. He limited the Boomer offense to only three runs and just one free pass. The former King University Tornado set a season-high in innings (6) and strikeouts (6). With the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth, Hendricks got a strikeout and then got help from his All-Start starting infield (Chirino, Fletcher, Iriart) and rolled a 4-6-3 double play to conclude his third start.
"He pitched for Pasky last year and I worked out with him a little bit in the offseason and there is just something we saw in him and he is just a bulldog, he wants the ball and he has been really fantastic for us this year. He pitched great, only one walk. When we have been keeping the walks down, we win. That's what we preach and that's what we talk about."
With both Normal and the Boomers trading punches all game, Chris Irairt got the final punch with his league-leading 15th home run with two outs in eighth that landed by the clubhouse in right-center to put Normal on top 6-5. Antony Herrera then finished off the ninth by striking out the first two batters and picked up his teams leading fourth win.
"Iriart my man, he is leading the league in home runs, right up there in RBI and got a big home run tonight off one of their better relievers, a guy coming and throwing the ball really good."
The Belters had their biggest lead of the game (2) heading into the eighth after Loveless drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh, but the Boomers plated two runs to tie the game again off Kuehl McEachern.
Both teams put up two runs in the second. Tanner Lubach hit his eighth home run to cut the lead in half. The CornBelters tied the game after an error by the Boomers second baseman that brought in Chris Iriart.
Schaumburg took back the lead in the next inning (3rd) on a two-out double. Normal then record back-to-back singles in the fifth by Sam Vega and Justin Fletcher. With runners in motion, Santiago Chirino kept the single train moving and tied the game. Derrick Loveless concluded the five straight singles and brought in Fletcher to take the first lead of the game, 4-3.
"We talked about it before the game that tonight is the beginning of our second half. We had a tough road trip and tough go around in Joliet. I think this team really realizes what we were made of and what we are capable of ... and we got one heck of a ball club and I am proud the way our boys responded tonight especially after a tough emotional loss last night."
The CornBelters send newly acquired Zach Kirby on the mound tomorrow with first pitch at 7:05 p.m.
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ABOUT THE CORNBELTERS
The Normal CornBelters are a professional baseball team of the Frontier League located in Normal, Illinois, which is part of the Bloomington-Normal metropolitan area. They play their home games at The Corn Crib. Tickets and Sponsorships are available for the 2018 season. For more information visit normalbaseball.com or call 309-454-2255. You can also follow the team on Facebook.
ABOUT THE FRONTIER LEAGUE
The Frontier League, based in Sauget, Illinois, is a professional, independent baseball organization located in the Midwestern United States consisting of 12 franchises in two divisions playing a 96-game regular season schedule. The league was formed in 1993 and is the oldest currently running independent league. For more information about the Frontier League visit frontierleague.com.