Walks, slugging effective for Otters in win


AUGET, Ill. – The Evansville Otters had another tough battle on the road against the Gateway Grizzlies Friday, but early walks and slugging on offense turned into an 8-7 victory for the Otters.


Right away in the top of the first inning, Evansville had base runners, as Gateway’s Jordan Barrett appeared to have similar control issues on the mound Friday just as he did a week ago at Bosse Field when he walked eight Otters.


On Friday, the first two Otters reached via the walk, and then Riley Krane scored the first run on a sac fly. Two more Otters walked, setting up a bases loaded situation for Andy DeJesus. DeJesus proceeded to single home Josh Allen and Gary Mattis, giving Evansville a 3-0 lead.


Following walks of their own in the bottom of the first, Gateway scored four runs to grab a 4-3 on RBI hits by Jose Rosario, Dustin Woodcock, and Justin Jones.


Gateway made it 5-3 in their favor in the bottom of third on an RBI double by Jay Prather.


The ball started rolling for Evansville in the fifth when Elijah MacNamee drew a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Jeffrey Baez went deep to opposite field to tie the game, his fourth consecutive game with a home run.


Later in the inning, Evansville took a 6-5 lead on a bases-loaded walk to Justin Felix.


In the top of the sixth, the Otters scored two important insurance runs. Back-to-back walks to MacNamee and Allen started the inning. Then Riley Krane came through clutch once again with a double into the alley that scored both MacNamee and Allen to push Evansville’s advantage to 8-5.


Those two runs proved vital, as in the bottom of the sixth, Gateway’s Chase Vallot launched a two-run shot to bring the Grizzlies back within one. That was all Gateway could muster though with Evansville’s bullpen locking down the game the rest of the way.


On the mound, Tim Holdgrafer got the win for Evansville, striking out six and allowing five runs in five innings. The Grizzlies’ Jordan Barrett took the loss, going 4.1 innings and giving up six runs with six walks and seven strikeouts. Logan Sawyer earned his 20th save of the season for the Otters, closing out the ninth.


Offensively, Evansville totaled 11 walks, six of which came around to score.


Baez tallied two hits with a pair of RBIs, Krane went three for four with two doubles and three RBIs, and DeJesus had a couple hits with two RBIs.


Evansville also had four stolen bases in the game.


Following Friday’s games, the Otters are 1.5 games ahead of the Florence Y’alls in the Frontier League West Division standings.


Saturday first pitch at Gateway is 6:45 p.m. Saturday will feature a battle of southpaws, as left-hander Braden Scott will take the baseball for Evansville against lefty Jesse Remington for Gateway.