Though the River City Rascals didn’t go down without a fight, their comeback effort was in vain on Friday night, as they dropped their series opener against the Evansville Otters by a score of 8-6 at CarShield Field. The Rascals trailed 7-0 entering the seventh inning of the contest. The Otters racked up 19 hits on the night, including three each from David Cronin, Ryan Long, Mike Rizzitello, Carlos Castro and Hunter Cullen.
Cronin hit the first pitch of the game over the 27-foot-high “Big Dog Wall” in right to begin the night. The Otters tacked on two more in the third, with Cronin scoring on a wild pitch and Rizzitello driving in a run on a single. They made it 5-0 in the sixth on JJ Gould’s two-run homer, his first of the season. Back-to-back RBI doubles from Castro and Dakota Phillips in the top of the seventh made it 7-0 Otters.
The Rascals came roaring back with a five-run bottom of the seventh. Andrew Penner broke the seal with a bases-loaded walk, which was followed by an a run scoring on an error by Long, the Otters third baseman, to make it 2-0. Kameron Esthay followed with a two-run single up the middle, before Braxton Martinez made it 7-5 on a sacrifice fly. Zach Lavy cut the deficit to one with a lead-off homer in the bottom of the eighth.
Phillips hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth to give the Otters an insurance run. Evansville’s closer, Taylor Wright, allowed a one-out single to Esthay in the bottom of the ninth before striking out both Martinez and Lavy in order to end the game, earning his seventh save of the season.
Rascals starter Micah Kaczor (1-1) took the loss, allowing three runs in 4 2/3 innings, striking out two without issuing a walk. Otters starter Tyler Vail (3-4) earned the win, allowing three runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings with four walks and five strikeouts.
The Rascals (25-23) look to even the series against the Otters (28-20) tomorrow night, with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. CDT. Travis McQueen is expected to make the start for River City, and will be opposed by Anthony Arias, making his first professional start.