Jake Curtis is doing whatever he can to help the ‘Shoes win baseball games.
The regular shortstop got his first pitching start of the season, and it was all smiles with him on the bump.
The ‘Shoes teed off River Dragons starter Tyler Fullman in the second inning, forcing his removal from the game.
Jacob Compton got the offense going with a booming home run to right center, giving the ‘Shoes a 1-0 lead.
Drew Ezard collected his first RBI of the season when he traded places with Nathaniel Martinez on a double to left center.
Ezard would then score on a sacrifice fly from Payton Pennington, giving the ‘Shoes a 3-0 advantage after two.
Blake Stenger would score on an RBI groundout from Mike Hampton in the bottom of the third, tagging Curtis with his first run of the start. Still, the ‘Shoes led 3-1 after three.
Drew Ezard would get that run right back with his first home run of the season, a solo shot that would give the ‘Shoes a 4-1 lead, which was all Jake Curtis needed.
Jake Curtis continued his strong start through six innings, striking out four and only walking two. Some are calling him the Shohei Othani of the Lucky Horseshoes.
The River Dragons were more than pleased when he was removed in the bottom of the seventh.
Max Charlton was given the ball to protect the lead, but things were rocky from the get-go. In his first appearance of the season, he walked the first two batters he faced, and threw a wild pitch. He did not get much help from his defense, though.
With runners on first and third, pinch hitter Chris Andrews was looking to take away the double play with no one out on a steal of second. Nathaniel Martinez proceeded to throw the ball away into center field, scoring Blake Stenger and advancing Andrews to third. The ‘Shoes still led 4-2.
Andrews would come in to score on a one out single from Blake Burris, cutting the deficit to one.
‘Shoes reliever Drew Evans would attempt to salvage the situation with men on first and second, but things did not get much better.
Back to back walks would force in a run to tie the game. Daniel Contreras would then break the tie with a two-RBI single, and just like that, the River Dragons led 6-4 heading into the eighth.
Conveniently, the rain began to pour. It was always in the forecast, but only now could it begin to take full effect.
The game would be called after a short delay, and due to the five-inning minimum being reached, the game is official.
This is surely one that stings, and one that could be a turning point for the ‘Shoes season, one way or another. There are many positives, particularly the offensive display from Drew Ezard, who should be getting some time at the catcher position, a position of need due to injury.
Walks, wild pitches, and hit batsmen have been an issue all season long, but only time will tell whether or not those issues will linger during the 60-game summer.
The luck was certainly not with the Horseshoes on Friday night.
The ‘Shoes fall to 3-7, and will host the Quincy Gems at 6:30 on Saturday night.
The Alton River Dragons will take their league-best 8-2 record into their Saturday bout with the Danville Dans, also starting at 6:30.