By Steve Robinson | June 1, 2021 - 10:47 pm
Posted in Category: Normal Cornbelters, The Normalite

NORMAL – The Normal CornBelters of the Prospect League, after their first week, are just beginning to find their footing as the 2021 season begins. After all, 2020 wasn’t much for any of the league’s teams no thanks to COVID-19. They finished the first week of the new season at 2-2, dropping their season opener May 27 to Illinois Valley 6-0, beating Quincy, 8-4, and losing to newcomer Burlington, 13-2 May 28, and then taking that last loss out on Quincy again, 15-5, all at The Corn Crib.

‘Belters Come Up Empty Against Illinois Valley In Opener: Peru, Ill.-based Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp were the first guests for the 2021 season in The Corn Crib, but Pistol Shrimp center fielder Christian Merriwether lead off for his team, singled, stole second and scored thanks to a single from teammate Christian Garcia, putting Illinois Valley up, 1-0 to get the season going. They would add three more in the seventh inning and two more in the eighth inning while CornBelters batters’ attempts to get men on base and across home plate were foiled by their guests’ defensive efforts as the Pistol Shrimp marched to a 6-0 victory.

“It was just one of those games we weren’t able to get anything going early and their pitcher had a really good arm, and our guys really battled, and it’ll work itself out,” explained new CornBelters Manager Calvin Peacock afterward. From this point on, he said, “There will be a lot of moving parts, giving guys plenty of opportunities early and just kind of figure out how we want to roll for the rest of the season. But there’ll be a lot of moving parts.

“I was really impressed with our arms tonight, and our bats will come around,” Peacock said after the team’s first effort of the season.

Following his team’s first victory of the new season, Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp Manager John Jakiemiec was just happy to get the game played as earlier in the day on May 27, rain showers gave players pause as to whether the game would even be played. “When we left the bus, we had some dejected spirits thinking the game was not going to happen,” Jakiemiec said.

Mike Brown Honored Before First Game: Prior to the game, Mike Brown, who had a part in founding the Kernels Collegiate League giving area players an opportunity to play when COVID-19 abruptly ended many college teams’ players’ seasons last year, was honored by the team and fans in attendance. Brown, a Lexington native, died April 21 at age 51. A brief ceremony honoring Brown was held just prior to the start of the CornBelters’ first game May 27. Bloomington-Normal Baseball Association has set up a Memorial Scholarship Fund in Brown’s name. Paul Thompson, BNBA Director, said the organization awards a number of scholarships which are presented in the spring.

Upcoming Schedule: Having played at Burlington Wednesday, the CornBelters will play a daily game with Illinois Valley Pistol Shrimp Thursday through Saturday, with a home game at The Corn Crib Friday starting at 6:35p.m. Burlington will visit for a single game Sunday. The team gets Monday off before playing at Cape Girardeau June 8-10, and returns home for two single games against Burlington Friday, June 11 and Quincy Saturday, June 12.

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