Otters get final say in extra-innings series opener

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. – It took extra innings for the Evansville Otters to grab a series-opening victory against the Lake Erie Crushers, 5-4.

Lake Erie wasted no time working away at Brice Stuteville, recording three straight base hits to open the game. The game’s first score came on an RBI single from Jackson Valera.

Evansville responded in the second, leveling the game with an RBI double from Jeffrey Baez. After Zach Biermann gave the Otters the lead by scoring on a wild pitch, George Callil added to the lead with an RBI single. But the Otters’ 3-1 lead did not last long.

In the bottom half of the third, the Crushers worked five straight men on base, retaking the lead. A two-run single from Jake Gitter once again tied the game – this time at 3-3. Bryan De Le Rosa gave Lake Erie their 4-3 lead with an RBI single one batter later.

The game saw a scoreless fourth inning before Evansville struck again in the fifth. Biermann tripled to right field, scoring Bryan Rosario to tie the game again.

From there, the bullpens entered the game and the score stood still. Finally, the game saw its top opportunity in the bottom of the ninth, as Lake Erie had the bases loaded with just one out. A fielder’s choice play at the plate and flyout got the Otters out of the inning defensively and into extra innings.

In the tenth, J.R. Davis kicked off the extra frame with a flyout to center, advancing the ghost runner Steven Sensley to third. Two batters later, Baez gave Evansville the lead with a fielder’s choice to shortstop.

Logan Sawyer entered for the Otters as Lake Erie came to bat. The ghost runner would not advance at all as Sawyer struck out all three batters faced to give Evansville the 5-4 win.

Augie Gallardo received the win in relief as the loss for Lake Erie fell on Sam Curtis. Sawyer threw for his league-leading 16th save of 2022 and 40th of his professional career.

Biermann was the only Otter with multiple hits in the game while Baez recorded a pair of RBIs.

The series continues Wednesday night as the Otters and Crushers meet once again from Mercy Health Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. CT. Audio-only coverage begins on the Evansville Otters YouTube page at 6:50 p.m.

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