WASHINGTON, Pa. (Sept. 7) – The Washington Wild Things cruised to the Frontier League Championship by sweeping the Evansville Otters 3-0 in the Divisional Series of the playoffs, clinching a championship round berth with a 5-0 game three win Friday night.
The Wild Things (3-0) utilized a five-run first inning and a solid pitching performance from starter Michael Austin to capitalize on their opportunity to end the series early.
Right fielder Hector Roa opened up the big first frame with a two-run triple down the right field line to give Washington a 2-0 advantage just four batters into the game. Second baseman Carter McEachern knocked Roa in during the ensuing at bat with an RBI groundout to second.
Later in the inning, Evansville (0-3) starting pitcher Ty Hensley was relieved by Tanner Cable with the bases loaded and two outs to face third baseman Dom Iero. Iero immediately made him pay, sneaking a two-RBI single through the infield to wrap up the scoring in the first frame and extending the Washington advantage over the Otters to 5-0.
There would be no scoring across the rest of the game as both pitching staffs settled in. Evansville threatened to score in both the fourth, seventh and eighth innings by getting multiple runners on base, but the Otters could not capitalize on those opportunities.
Austin dazzled across his six scoreless innings of work, grabbing the win while giving up just five hits and no walks and striking out seven Otters. Austin was replaced in the seventh inning by Jake Eaton, who tossed a scoreless inning of his own. Jesus Balaguer and Zach Strecker took care of the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to complete the combined shutout.
Evansville’s pitching honed in after Hensley’s departure in the first inning, as the combination of Cable and Austin Nicely tossed 7.1 innings of scoreless, two-hit baseball the rest of the game.
The Otters outhit the Wild Things eight to six in the game, but Washington’s five-hit first inning was the difference as Evansville spread its hits across multiple innings.
Roa and Iero each had two RBI in the game, while catcher Kyle Pollock was the only Wild Things’ batter with multiple hits, turning in a 2-3 effort with a triple.
The Wild Things will now wait to see who they will face in the championship round – either Joliet or River City. That series is currently tied 1-1. Washington will host games one and two this coming Tuesday and Wednesday of the best-of-five championship series, as well as game five if the series extends that far. Each of those three games will start at 7:05 p.m.