September 3rd, 2015
Normal, IL—The Evansville Otters (48-45) rallied late, but fell short and were swept for the first time on the season as they dropped the final game of the series 4-3 to the Normal Cornbelters (59-34).
The Otters bats were again silent through the first half of the game and the Cornbelters took advantage, scoring two in the fifth inning on a double steal and a single. The Otters cut the lead in half in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Nik Balog, his 14th RBI in his last 12 games, and continued to load the bases with one out. However, Chris Sweeney struck out and Josh Allen grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the threat with the Otters still down 2-1.
Trevor Walch, who was on the mound to start the game for the Otters, came back out to pitch in the seventh inning and his defense failed him. The first batter, Cameron Monger, hit a groundball to the third basement Shayne Houck, but Houck misfired wide of the bag, pushing the runner to second on the two run error. Ozney Guillen went to lay down a sac bunt in the next at bat and Trevor Walch fielded the ball and threw to first while slipping. Balog appeared to maintain contact with the bag and Guillen was called out.
The Cornbelters protested the call and after a conference between the two umpires, the call was reversed. That brought Andy McCauley out to discern why the call was overturned. After talking with the base umpire it was determined that the base umpire overturned his own call. McCauley argued the decision and was thrown out for the first time on the summer. The following batter doubled to drive in the third run of the game for the Cornbelters and they scored another on a sacrifice fly to center for a 4-1 lead.
The Otters did not go down quietly though. Dane Phillips started off the ninth with a double to center, his second of the game and third hit overall, and moved to third on a groundout by Nik Balog. After Chris Elder struckout, Chris Sweeney came to the late and launched his 15th home run of the season and his 35th as an Otter to tie him for most all-time in franchise history (Jeff Goldbach) and bring the Otters to within one. Josh Allen followed with a triple to right-center field to put the tying run 90 feet away, but Cory Urquhart struck out in his first at bat of the game to end the affair 4-3 in favor of the Cornbelters.
John Schultz doubled in the eighth inning for his 27th of the season, which broke the mark for most in a single season. Dane Phillips went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a run scored while Nik Balog drove in his 14th RBI in his last 12 games. The Otters are now tied with the Florence Freedom for fifth place in the Frontier League playoffs, but the Otters hold the tie-breaker (at publishing the Rockford Aviators, who could tie both teams with a win, are leading in their game).
The Otters return home for the final three games of the season when they play the River City Rascals. Tomorrow’s night’s game is scheduled for 6:35 pm with the pregame show featuring Jake Donnelly and Bill McKeon to being at 6:15 pm CDT. The Otters will look to avoid their first four game losing streak of the season when they toss left-handed pitcher Blaine Howell out on the mound against a to be determined pitcher for the Rascals. For all of the latest information on the Otters, log on to EvansvilleOtters.com or follow the team’s twitter account @EvilleOtters.