NORMAL, Ill. (July 13, 2018) – The Normal CornBelters (23-26) started off the second half on strong a note as they shutout the Evansville Otters (26-24) in a 1-0 victory in front of 1,781 at the Corn Crib on Friday night.
“It (win to open second half) was huge. Especially anytime you can open up a series and get a win, we got a leg up right now. So this is our series to lose. We got one heck of an outing by Jacinto (Garcia) and then de Marte and Herrera come in and do their thing,” said Manager Billy Horn.
Jacinto Garcia set the tone tonight and matched the Evansville starting pitcher as they both threw seven shutout innings. The righty lasted seven full for the second time in a row that ties a career high. Garcia only allowed three hits and two walks in his tenth start on the season. While he was dealt with the no-decision, he has not allowed a run in his last two starts (14 innings.) He got some help from his defense as Nick Cain doubled off a runner on first in the sixth.
“It builds momentum going forward especially if you want to make a playoff push. Being off four days was nice, but now its time to get back on the grind and make that playoff push and that’s our goal to make a run and win a championship,” said Garcia “I have been pitching a lot of my changeup, two-seam has been good and I have been struggling a little bit with my curveball, but my pitches have been good enough that I have been locating really well and having good rhythm with Tanner (Lubach) who calls a heck of a game.”
Both teams remained scoreless until the eighth and Normal didn’t find it’s first until Andrew Godbold singled to left in the fourth. Newly acquired, Michael Baca showed the wheels and doubled down the right-field line with one out in the eighth. Justin Fletcher then moved his new teammate to third on a sac fly into right. With two outs, the four-year All-Star, Santiago Chirino came up in the clutch and knocked in the eventual winning run.
“What can you say about Chirino, just captain clutch, comes up with a big two-out RBI there and gives us a chance to win it. Our bullpen shut them down, we fell like were built to roll right now and we really love our club right now. We are happy where we are offensively, defensively, and pitching-wise and hopefully do the same thing tomorrow.”
Again Jonathan de Marte and Anthony Herrera teamed up to secure another Belter victory. De Marte (2-2) threw a perfect eighth to earn the win and he now has not allowed an earned run in his last seven appearances. Herrera gave up a hit, but the Otters stranded the runner on second as he picked up his team-leading seventh save. He has now earned six saves in his last nine games.
Normal looks to secure the series tomorrow with sending Zach Kirby on the mound with first pitch at 7:05 p.m.