Grizzlies, Rascals Both 10 Games out at Frontier League Break

By Lyons, Joe | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), July 13, 2016 | Go to article overview

Grizzlies, Rascals Both 10 Games out at Frontier League Break


Lyons, Joe, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


The Frontier League will hold its All-Star Game on Wednesday night in Florence, Ky., then will begin the second half of its season on Friday.

The Gateway Grizzlies (25-28) and River City Rascals (23-26) find themselves in similar positions both trail the West Division- leading Southern Illinois Miners by 10 games. But both local managers are optimistic about their team playing better after the break and getting into the playoff picture.

"It's a long season and there's still a lot of baseball to be played," said River City manager Steve Brook, who led the Rascals to the league title in 2010 and to runner-up finishes in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2015. "I like the group we put together and I still feel there's time to pull it together. A couple of weeks ago we were eight games over .500, but then we went through a stretch where we lost 13 of 16. But we managed to win three of our last five before the break and hopefully that's something we can build on."

The Rascals, who return to action Friday against the visiting Schaumburg (Ill.) Boomers at CarShield Field in O'Fallon, Mo., played a good portion of their early-season schedule against division foes Southern Illinois, Evansville and Gateway.

And they did so without starting shortstop Johnny Morales (.279, one homer, 10 RBIs, six steals) who has been limited to 32 games after breaking a hand and staff ace Joe Scanio (3-3), a Hazelwood West High product who went down because of a strained triceps in his eighth start.

"Getting Johnny back with help both at the plate and in the field," Brook said. "Joe's been working extremely hard with his rehab, but the injury he has it's similar to an oblique strain so you really have to be careful. If he tests it too soon and it's not completely healed, he could be done for the season."

Traditionally, the Rascals have been known for offense. This year's squad is hitting a league-best .284 and ranks at or near the top in on-base percentage (.364) and on-base plus slugging (.779). But there's something missing.

"We don't have the power hitters that we've had in the past and that's key because we're in a hitters' park," Brook said. "But honestly, the thing we lacked in the first half of the season was those timely hits."

The Rascals will be represented Wednesday in Kentucky by catcher Josh Ludy, who's hitting .311 with a homer and 19 RBIs, and closer Zac Treece, who is 3-0 with 10 saves and a 1.90 earned-run average.

Other first-half standouts for the Rascals include center fielder Alexi Colon (.271, nine HRs, 24 RBIs), infielder Jason Merjano (.279, two HRs, 23 RBIs, 12 stolen bases) and starters Zeb Sneed (3- 5, 3.15 ERA) and Tim Koons (3-3, 4. …

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