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Donze makes pro debut with Gateway

SAUGET, Ill. — Jake Donze bolstered a burdened bullpen on Saturday night while making his professional baseball debut with the Gateway Grizzlies of the independent Frontier League.

The 2006 graduate of Ste. Genevieve High School, among three hurlers to sign with the Grizzlies on Friday, appeared in the fifth inning with his team trailing the Florence Freedom 8-2.

Donze recorded two strikeouts and allowed one run over three innings while overcoming five walks. He inherited a runner at second base with no outs, but left him stranded at third.

Gateway, which committed seven errors before an announced crowd of 6,010 at GCS Stadium, gradually erased the six-run deficit to draw even at 9-9 before Florence prevailed with an unearned tally in the ninth.

Donze could make his initial start for the Grizzlies on Wednesday against the Evansville Otters.

“I wasn’t too happy about my walks, but I made the pitches that I needed to make to get out of some jams,” Donze said. “It was definitely a great experience, though, to be able to debut in front of my family and the home crowd.”

Donze recently completed his collegiate career as the staff ace at Murray State University. His six wins, 80.1 innings pitched and four complete games were team highs for the Racers.

The 23-year-old southpaw also played three seasons in the now-defunct KIT League, including the summer of 2007 with the Farmington Firebirds.

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