CornBelters and Catfish Split Doubleheader

Normal, IL July 27 – The Normal CornBelters and Cape Catfish played a pair of seven-inning games Wednesday night with Normal taking the first game 5-3 and Cape coming from behind in the nightcap to prevail 7-4.

Game One: Normal got on the scoreboard in the first inning of the opening game, thanks to a single, a stolen base, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly by CornBelter right fielder Peyton Dillingham, a recent graduate of McKendree University. Normal made it 2-0 in the second inning on an RBI single off the bat of center fielder Dominic DiLello (Illinois Wesleyan University) that scored left fielder Ben Higgins (Purdue University at Fort Wayne) who had singled to lead off the inning.

Cape tied the game in the third thanks to back-to-back two-out doubles by second baseman John Bolton (University of Arkansas) and left fielder Josh Cameron (Southeast Missouri State) followed by an RBI single by designated hitter Blake Barton (Belmont University).

Catfish third baseman Kolton Poorman (Three Rivers Community College) homered over the left field wall to lead off the fourth inning. It was his third round-tripper of the season and gave Cape a 3-2 lead.

But Normal tied the game in the fifth frame when DiLello singled to left, stole second and scored on a two-out RBI single by shortstop Jackson Bemler from Parkland College. Bemler went two for two in Game One, raising his batting average to .476 (10 hits in 21 at bats).

Normal took the lead in the sixth inning on a two-out, two-RBI single by third baseman John Stallcup, a redshirt sophomore from SIU-Edwardsville. His hit scored Higgins and Dillingham, both of whom had walked earlier in the inning.

The Catfish went down in order in their final at bat giving the CornBelters, and starting pitcher Jake Armstrong (Western Illinois University) the win and improving his record to 5-1. Armstrong pitched a complete seven-inning game, allowing three Catfish runs on six hits, walking one and striking out six.

Catfish starter Eli Brown (Lindenwood University) took the loss and is now 2-3. He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and five runs while striking out one and walking three.

Game Two: After homering in the first game of the doubleheader, designated hitter Poorman knocked another round-tripper in the first inning of the second game to give the Catfish an early 1-0 lead.

But the lead was short-lived as Normal picked up a pair of runs in the bottom of the second on a one-out RBI double by right fielder Wilson Zuck (Lindenwood University) followed by a throwing error on an infield grounder that allowed Zuck to score, giving Normal a 2-1 edge.

Cape tied the game in the third when Cameron singled, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error by Normal’s catcher and then scored on a two-out single to left by Poorman. It was Poorman’s second RBI of the game and third of the night.

The CornBelters regained the lead in their half of the third when Higgins and Illinois State’s Connor Olson singled off Catfish reliever Chad Donze (Lindenwood) and first baseman Cy Kerber (Tennessee Tech) drove them in with a single to left, making the score 4-2 in Normal’s favor.

But the Catfish picked up a run in the fourth when third baseman Danny Sperling (SEMO State) doubled to left and scored on an RBI single by second baseman Zane Wallace, a junior at Lyon College from Kennett, Missouri, who was just added to Cape’s roster. Cape then tied the game at 4-4 in the fifth inning when Poorman singled, stole second and scored on a base hit to left center by first baseman Cam Careswell (Mizzou). It was Careswell’s team-leading 30th run batted in on the season.

Cape took a two-run lead in the sixth inning when Bolton walked to open the frame and Cameron, the next batter, connected on his second home run of the season to make the score 6-4 in Cape’s favor.

The Catfish added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Wallace was hit by a pitch and scored when Cape center fielder Christopher Hall (Florida State College at Jacksonville) singled to right center. That made the score 7-4 which would be the final as the CornBelters went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.

Catfish starter Devyn Terbrak from Perryville, Missouri, a senior at Western Kentucky University, went two innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on two hits while striking out two and walking none. Donze pitched four innings for the win, improving his record to 1-3, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out seven and walking two. Austin Brock (Arkansas State) pitched the final inning for the save, his third of the season, striking out two CornBelters in the process.

Normal starter Christopher Cuppini, a senior at Young Harris College in Young Harris, Georgia, allowed 10 hits and four runs (three earned) in his four innings of work and took the loss, dropping his record to 2-2.

The loss ended Normal’s eight-game winning streak.

As a result of the doubleheader split, Cape’s record is now 19-29 overall and 7-10 in the second half of the Prospect League season with 10 games remaining on the schedule. Normal’s overall record now stands at 26-23, 12-7 in the second half.

From Normal, the Catfish travel to O’Fallon, Missouri, for a 6:35 p.m. game Thursday against the Hoots before heading to Springfield, Illinois, Friday for a doubleheader against the Lucky Horseshoes that evening.

The Catfish return to Capaha Field in Cape Girardeau this weekend for games Saturday and Sunday against the Gems from Quincy, Illinois.