NORMAL — If the Normal CornBelters were an oven, your mother would warn you not to touch them.
The Belters continued to burn through the Frontier League schedule Thursday at the Corn Crib, dumping Gateway, 8-4, for their seventh consecutive victory.
Jonathan De Marte retired Gateway slugger Blake Brown on a grounder for the final out of the eighth and finished for his fourth save.
The Belters, who defeated the Grizzlies for the eighth straight time, held a 7-4 edge when De Marte replaced Evan Smith with two outs and the bases loaded.
"I was just trying to do everything I could to get ahead with a power hitter like that," DeMarte said. "I didn't want to hang anything there, make sure he doesn't put one out and give them the lead. I just tried to get inside a little bit and luckily I got him to roll over."
"It's our best versus their best," said Normal manager Billy Horn. "De Marte has been solid for us all year."
The Belters posted a first-inning tally for the fifth straight game and this time made it four runs.
Santiago Chirino doubled with one out and cruised home when Derrick Loveless smacked the wall in left-center field with a opposite field triple.
Loveless sprinted home on Andrew Godbold's sacrifice fly. Nick Cain re-started the rally with a single before Justin Fletcher blasted his first home run of the season.
The Grizzlies posted single runs in the second and third with Brown, a Normal West graduate, scoring the second run on a ground out after tripling to left-center.
Normal restored a four-run cushion in the fifth.
James Davison Jr. reached on an infield single and raced around to score on Chirino's hit and run double. Loveless singled in Chirino.
Belters starter Jack Landwehr labored at times but navigated six innings while allowing two runs. The right-hander from Illinois State struck out five and walked three while bumping his record to 7-3.
"Jack came up big tonight, another quality start," Horn said. "He didn't have his best stuff. He didn't have great fastball command. From the neck up, he really battled. Mentally, he was locked in and gave us everything he had."
Gateway pulled within 6-4 in the seventh with two runs against reliever Anthony Herrera. Cain touched home plate with Normal's seventh run on a wild pitch after reaching on a seventh-inning error.
Normal opens a series against River City on Friday at the Corn Crib with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m.