Vail sets franchise record in Otters’ win

Tyler Vail made Evansville Otters history in an 8-2 win against the Florence Freedom Saturday, setting the franchise’s all-time mark for strikeouts when he struck out Florence’s Andre Mercurio in the bottom of the first inning.

eading into Saturday’s start, Vail needed two strikeouts to pass former Otter Andre Simpson’s mark of 303. Vail accomplished the feat in the first inning.


Vail, in his fourth season with the Otters, picked up the win Saturday as he finished with five strikeouts. He went six shutout innings, allowing only three hits.


With his total strikeout number in an Otters’ uniform at 307, the Easton, Pa. native will see that record number continue to grow as the regular season rolls on.


Vail now has five quality starts on the season, going at least six innings and allowing only three earned runs in each start. He improves to 4-5.


He also received plenty of run support in Saturday’s start as Evansville’s offense was able to force Florence to use five pitchers.


Making a spot start for the Freedom, Zak Spivy took the hill against the Otters. Florence’s original probable starter, Tyler Gibson, was signed by the Cincinnati Reds organization mid-afternoon on Saturday.


After two scoreless innings between both teams to begin the game, the Otters’ offense came alive in the top of the third.


After David Cronin and Ryan Long were able to reach base, Mike Rizzitello singled to score Cronin from third and the game’s first run in favor of the Otters.


Carlos Castro hit a ground ball to Freedom shortstop Austin Wobrock who threw to second base for what appeared to be a force out. Instead, Rizzitello was called safe at second and second baseman Caleb Lopes overthrew Connor Crane at first, allowing Castro to advance to second, Rizzitello to third, and Long to touch home extending the Otters’ lead to two.


A sac fly to right field by Dakota Phillips scored Rizzitello as the Otters extended their lead to 3-0.


The Freedom had an opportunity to respond in the bottom of the fourth with the bases loaded and two outs, but Vail was able to work out of the jam.


The Otters tacked on another run in the top of the fifth on a hit from Castro to score Keith Grieshaber, putting the Otters in control at 4-0.


Spivy, the right-hander for Florence, threw five innings, allowing four runs – two earned – on four hits while tossing five strikeouts. He was given the loss, dropping his record to 0-3.


In the top of the seventh inning, Castro crushed a two-run home run for his 10th of the year, and Jack Meggs added a two-RBI single give the Otters an 8-0 lead.


Otters reliever Cam Opp pitched two scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth innings.


The Freedom scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth on RBI knocks by Crane and Isaac Benard off Michael Gizzi to make the final score 8-2.


The Otters will conclude their visit to Florence Sunday at 4:35 p.m., seeking a divisional series win. Tyler Beardsley will be on the mound for the Otters, going up against left-hander Mike Castellani.