Welch goes eight strong as Otters earn series win

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The Evansville Otters received eight strong innings out of starter Jake Welch, and five Otters finish with multiple hits in 6-1 win against the Windy City Thunderbolts Thursday night.

Welch took the baseball for the Otters in Thursday’s series finale against the Thunderbolts, making his first start at Bosse Field in 2019.

Welch did his job on the mound, allowing one run on eight hits while striking out three in eight innings.

The right-hander also received run support from the Otters offense on Thursday.

Second baseman David Cronin was a tone-setter at the top of the Otters’ lineup, picking up two hits and two RBIs.

In the bottom of the first, Cronin led off with a single, stole second, swiped third, and scored on a sac-fly from Ryan Long to give the Otters a 1-0 lead.

In the second, after Mike Rizzitello and Justin Erby singled, Cronin lined a single to centerfield, scoring his teammates to extend the Otters lead to three.

Welch can also credit the defense behind him for making big plays.

In the top of the second, with a runner on first and one out, a ground ball by Randy Perez toward third allowed Long to turn a 5-4-3 double play.

With runners on second and third with one out in the fourth, a key catch in left field and quick throw from Keith Grieshaber held Dash Winningham at third with two outs, and a flyout to Erby in right field ended the threat.

In the top of the fifth, after Jordan Swiss singled to lead off the inning, a groundball to Long recorded the second 5-4-3 double play of the game.

In the Otters’ half of the fifth inning, with Carlos Castro at second, Rob Calabrese launched a two-run home run to left field to give the Otters a commanding 5-0 lead.

Grieshaber flashed his leather in the sixth with a runner on first. He caught a flyout from Dash Winningham in left and threw a ball straight to Castro at first to double up Manuel Mesa to record the third double play of the evening.

Kenny Mathews, who two-hit the Otters the last time these two teams played in Windy City, threw 5.1 innings, allowing three runs on five hits. He would be pulled in the sixth, earning the loss.

An RBI single by Winningham in the eighth would be the only blip on Welch’s radar, as he ended his outing with a strikeout. He tossed eight innings of one run baseball, earning his first win of the season.

Long would earn an RBI walk from Blake Hickman, the same pitcher he tripled off of on Tuesday night to make it 6-1.

Otters reliever Taylor Wright continued his solid season, retiring the side in the ninth on three strikeouts, increasing his total to 26 strikeouts.

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