JOLIET, IL. (WFIE) - The Evansville Otters could not hold off a late surge by the Joliet Slammers Tuesday as the Slammers won the series opener 7-4 after scoring five unanswered runs in the latter stages of the game.
Joliet scored the game’s first tally in the bottom of the first inning on Dash Winningham’s RBI double, giving Joliet a 1-0 lead.
The second through fourth innings would be a scoreless, pitching stronghold by starters Jake Welch for the Otters and Keegan Long for the Slammers.
The Otters broke through against Long in the top of the fifth for three runs.
Hunter Cullen led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, and Elijah MacNamee singled to put runners on first and second with no-outs.
A sac bunt by Jack Meggs advanced the runners to second and third, and David Cronin’s two-RBI double gave the Otters their first lead of the game at 2-1.
Keith Grieshaber followed with a single, scoring Cronin, giving the Otters a 3-1 lead, and extending his hit streak to 17 games.
The Slammers would respond in the bottom of the fifth on a sac fly from Chaz Meadows to cut the Otters’ lead to one.
The Otters gathered their two-run lead back on an RBI single by Meggs in the top of the sixth, making the score 4-2 Otters.
Keegan Long would exit the game after finishing the sixth inning. He surrendered four runs on six hits with six walks and two strikeouts, earning a no-decision.
Joliet would equalize the game at four after two leadoff hits were followed by RBI outs in the bottom of the sixth.
That would end the night for Jake Welch, who tossed six innings and allowed four runs on seven hits while recording six strikeouts.
With the Slammers gaining offensive momentum heading into the bottom of the seventh, Riley Krane delivered the go-ahead hit off Otters reliever Drew Beyer, driving in two runs to give the Slammers a 6-4 edge.
Another sac fly by Meadows in the eighth gave Joliet an insurance run and extended their lead to three.
With closer Ryan Koziol entering the game for the Slammers in the top of the ninth, J.J. Gould and Cronin led off the top of the ninth with back-to-back singles, allowing Grieshaber to represent the tying run at the plate.
Unfortunately, Grieshaber grounded into the third double play turned by Meadows at shortstop, putting Gould at third with two outs.
Ryan Long would groundout to Meadows to give Koziol his 13th save of the season and finish the win for Joliet.
Game two of the three-game series will be Wednesday at 10:05 a.m. with Anthony Arias on the mound for the Otters and Tyler Jandron for the Slammers.
Broadcast coverage can be found on the radio at 91.5 WUEV-FM or at evansvilleotters.com with Dave Nguyen on the call.
The Otters are celebrating their 25th anniversary season in 2019.
The Otters’ next homestand will be July 26-28 against the Windy Thunderbolts. Friday is presented by Kyndle and the American Cancer Society. Saturday is sponsored by A.R.G and Gray Loon Marketing for 90s Night. Sunday is presented by Gilda’s Club.
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.