Before tonight’s start, Will Oliver had never gone past the seventh inning this season for the Evansville Otters (37-18), but Oliver took care of that statistic by blowing through the eighth and going back out in the ninth to finish off the Traverse City Beach Bums (32-21), picking up the nine inning complete game shutout in the Otters 6-0 victory tonight in Michigan.
After a series against the Joliet Slammers where they had to come from behind in every single game, the Otter scored first against the Beach Bums, taking advantage of a couple of errors to plate two in the frame. The first scored on an error by the shortstop and the second on an RBI single by Dane Phillips.
The Otters put another up on the board in the third inning, taking advantage of another error by the Beach Bums, this time by the pitcher Ian MacDougall. With runners at second and third, Phillips hit a chopper over the head of the first basemen, which was fielded by the second basemen Alex Tomasovich. Tomasovich had to wait for the pitcher MacDougall to cover first, and the throw was on target. But MacDougall dropped the throw for his second error of the game and another run in for the Otters, putting them up 3-0.
Oliver continued to mow down the Beach Bums in the bottom frames including striking out the side in the sixth inning. The Otters buoyed the performance with three more runs in the top of the seventh inning, thanks to aggressive base running by JD Dorgan.
After Dorgan singled to begin the inning and Cory Urquhart followed with one of his own, John Schultz popped up a sac bunt, which was fielded in the air by MacDougall down the third baseline. However, the third basemen Jose Vargas had crashed from the corner, leaving third vacated so despite Schultz not getting the job done, Dorgan recognized the clear path to third and took the open base to put runners on the corners. His adventure was not done though. Allen hit a high chopper slightly down the third baseline that MacDougall had to field, and after trying to tag out Dorgan, flipped the ball to the catcher Jake Rhodes who was bowled over by Dorgan. The ball stayed in the glove, but Rhodes lost his glove, allowing Dorgan to score the fourth Otters run of the game.
MacDougall was pulled after that chaotic play and the Beach Bums called on a reliever, but Shayne Houck singled to load the bases and Phillips drove in his second run of the game with sac fly to center before Chris Sweeney made it a 6-0 ballgame with a single to left.
Oliver needed just ten pitches in the eighth inning and although he allowed a one out double in the ninth inning, came back with a strikeout and a grounder to short to end the ballgame and complete his first nine-inning game of the season.
It was Oliver’s fourth complete game of the season, his first of nine innings, and now leads the Frontier League in the category. He gave up just four hits in the outing and walked four, but struck out nine, dropping his ERA to 1.57 (second in the Frontier League behind the Otters’ Trevor Walch who has a 1.42). Oliver’s record bumps to 7-2 on the summer while Ian MacDougall is now 6-4 with the loss.
Dane Phillips went 2-for-4 on the night and has now driven in 14 runs in his last twelve games. Josh Allen scored three times toniht and picked up his eleventh steal of the season while John Schultz has now reached safely in 16 straight and hit safely in 15 of his last 16.
The Otters will look to take Game Two tomorrow and the series against the Beach Bums when they send Preston Olson (5-3, 3.65) against the Beach Bums’ Anthony Montefusco (3-4, 4.27). The game starts at 6:05 pm CDT and the pregame show with Jake Donnelly starts at 5:45 pm CDT.