Otters fend off Rascals with 8-6 win

O’FALLON, Mo. – The Evansville Otters held off a big charge from the River City Rascals Friday, taking game one of the weekend series 8-6.

The Otters built a 7-0 lead against the Rascals, who did not go down quietly on Friday night.

The Otters’ offense was ready to roll from the first pitch of the game.

David Cronin took the first pitch from Rascals starter Micah Kaczor 300 feet down the right field line over a 27-foot wall at CarShield Field to give the Otters a 1-0 lead. It was Cronin’s first home run of the season.

Cronin then singled in the top of the third, advanced to second on a groundout by Keith Grieshaber, and went to third on a single by Ryan Long.

With runners on the corners and one out, Kaczor threw a wild pitch, allowing Cronin to touch home to give the Otters a 2-0 lead.

An RBI single by Mike Rizzitello scored Long from second base to extend the Otters lead to three.

That would be all the damage that Kaczor allowed from the Otters, exiting his first start at home, and second against the Otters, in 4.2 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits. He earned the loss.

Carlos Castro doubled to extend his hitting streak to 13 games to lead off the top of the sixth inning.

Three batters later, J.J. Gould hit his first home run of the season 320 feet down the left field line to give the Otters a 5-0 lead.

The Otters would add two more runs in the top of the seventh as Carlos Castro and Dakota Phillips hit back-to-back RBI doubles to extend the Otters lead to seven.

Tyler Vail entered the bottom of the seventh inning with six shutout innings, surrendering only two hits with five strikeouts.

After getting JD Hearn to fly out to Jack Meggs in right field, the rally for the Rascals began.

Nolan Meadows singled, Tanner Murphy walked, and Nick Anderson, who was recently acquired by the Rascals, singled as well to load the bases with one out.

That would be the end of the day for Vail, finishing with 6.1 innings thrown. He would be responsible for all three runners.

Otters reliever Drew Beyer came on in a tough situation, entering for the first time since Tuesday’s game one against Gateway.

Andrew Penner walked, which scored the first run of the game for the Rascals.

Trevor Achenbach reached on an error by Ryan Long, which allowed Nolan Meadows to cross home plate, making the score 7-2.

A single by Kameron Esthay scored Penner and Anderson cutting the Otters lead to 7-4 still with one out.

All-Star third baseman Braxton Martinez hit a sac fly to Grieshaber in left field to score Achenbach, but the throw from Grieshaber to Long at third allowed Long to tag Esthay in time for the third out of the inning.

The Rascals sent eight men to the plate, scoring five runs on three hits and an error to make the score 7-5 Evansville.

Malcolm Grady came on in relief in the eighth and gave up a solo home run to Zach Lavy, the first batter of the inning, narrowing Evansville’s lead to 7-6.

The Otters scored an insurance run off of Tanner Cable in the ninth. Jack Meggs led off the inning and reached base on a dropped third strike. He later scored on a sac fly from Phillips, his second RBI of the game.

Taylor Wright pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth, earning his seventh save of the season, and ending the night on back-to-back strikeouts to Martinez and Lavy.

Vail earned the win, improving his record to 3-4. Vail threw 6.1 innings, allowing three runs on four hits.

The Otters scored eight runs on 19 hits, with Cronin, Long, Rizzitello, Cullen, and Castro each having three a-piece.

Game two will be Saturday at 6:35 p.m. from CarShield Field.

Broadcast coverage can be found on 91.5 WUEV-FM and evansvilleotters.com with Dave Nguyen on the call.

The Otters are celebrating their 25th anniversary season in 2019.

To purchase a season ticket or group outing package, call (812) 435-8686 or visit the Bosse Field front office at 23 Don Mattingly Way, Evansville, Ind. The front office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Evansville Otters are the 2006 and 2016 Frontier League champions.

The Otters play all home games at historic Bosse Field, located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Ind. Stay up-to-date with the Evansville Otters by visiting evansvilleotters.com, or follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information, visit evansvilleotters.com or call 812-435-8686.