O'FALLON - Even the hulking 40-foot Big Dawg wall at had to bow down to the red-hot River City sluggers on Thursday night.
The Rascals pounded four home runs—including two over the wall—to muscle their way to a 12-3 victory over rival Southern Illinois in a key Frontier League game before 1,105
Jason Patton and Stephen Holdren drilled back-to-back tape-measure shots over the tall right-field structure in the second inning. Danny Sawyer and Doug Sanders chipped in with first-inning round-trippers to give the Rascals a league-leading 62 home runs—eight more than any other club in the 12-team league.
River City improved to 39-15 with its eighth win in the last nine games. The Rascals lead Southern Illinois by a season-high five games in the battle for the top spot in the Western Division.
The Rascals have outscored the opposition 67-27 during an impressive nine-game run that began before the All-Star break.
"Right now, we're on a roll because we're working hard and making things happen," said Sawyer. "We don't have any holes in our lineup - and it shows."
Holdren led a 14-hit attack with a 4-for-4 performance. He scored three times and leads the team in homers (14) and RBI (49).
"It's a cliche but hitting is so contagious," said Holdren. "And we're seeing that right now. We've got everything clicking."
River City leads the lead with 308 runs scored.
The wall was erected to keep the ball inside the park and protect a short 299-foot porch. But the way the Rascals are hitting they could put together multi-homer games in Busch Stadium
The blasts by Patton and Holdren were of the monster variety.
"That's one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen here," Holdren said of the Patton home run.
River City did all of its muscle work early jumping on Southern starter Ryan Zink for nine runs and four homers over the first 13 batters. Zink, a former River City hurler, dropped to 3-4.
Sanders, the second batter of the game, got the ball rolling with his third homer of the season. Holdren singled, Joash Brodin walked and Chad Maddox singled to push the lead to 2-0.
Sawyer then unloaded with a long drive over the fence in left-center for his third round-tripper of the season.
Patton and Holdren provided some long-distance fireworks in the second. With one on and two away, Patton smashed a long drive that easily cleared the Budweiser sign at the top of the wall for a 7-0 lead. Holdren followed with a similar blow that likely kept rolling to the down the street.
"Had to blow on it a little to get it out," Holdren joked.
Maddox added three hits while Sanders and Chris McClendon had two each.
River City lefty Zach Robertson allowed just three runs and six hits over six innings to improve to 6-0. He struck out six and walked three. The University of Iowa grad turned in a solid effort that got lost amidst the home-run barrage.
The Miners, one of the top teams since entering the league in 2007, find themselves five games out for the first time since that initial summer.
"People tend to forget baseball is such a game of momentum," said Holdren. "It was a great night."
NOTES FROM DAWG POUND:
- Maddox has seven home runs this season—all on the road.
- The Rascals have won 23 of their last 28 games.
- River City took over first place in the West on June 26 and has held the top spot ever since.
- Southern Illinois won 20 of its first 26 games this season.
- Zack Sterner, 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA. will start on Friday for the Rascals against David Harden (5-1, 2.18) of Southern.