EVANSVILLE, IN--The River City Rascals won an instant classic on Saturday night at historic Bosse Field, beating the Evansville Otters 7-6 in a back-and-forth game to take the 2-0 series lead. The Rascals scored the go-ahead run on a Braxton Martinez sacrifice fly and finished off the Otters on Joe Iorio's first career save. They have now won three straight games for the first time since June 1st-3rd.
The Otters got out to the early 1-0 lead on an RBI single from Jeff Gardner in the first inning, but the Rascals struck for two in the top of the third to take the lead themselves. Trevor Achenbach scored from second on a throwing error to second base by Otters first baseman Joe DeLuca, and Paul Kronenfeld walked with the bases loaded. The Otters regained the lead on a two-run double from Gardner in the bottom of the third to make it 3-2.
In the fourth, the Rascals jumped out to a 4-3 lead behind an RBI groundout from JD Hearn and an RBI single from Kevin Suarez. Suarez made it 6-3 Rascals with a two-run single in the sixth. The Otters tied the game with a three-run seventh, getting two bases-loaded walks and also scoring on a fielder's choice from Toby Thomas. Thomas hit a ground ball back to the pitcher with one out and the bases full, and after Tanner Wilt threw home to catcher Gage West for the first out, West's throw to first hit Thomas to allow a run to score. It would have been the third out in the inning at first base.
The Rascals scored on Martinez's sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth, and Iorio escaped a jam with runners at first and second to earn the save.
Rascals starter Dan Ludwig left the game with one out in the first inning after being hit in the face with a line-drive off the bat of Ryan Long. Rookie reliever Ryan Orr gave the Rascals 5.2 solid innings out of the bullpen, allowing three runs and at one point retiring seven straight. Wilt (2-0) earned the win, allowing two runs in two innings.
Otters starter Austin Nicely went five innings and allowed four runs, two earned. He walked four and struck out four. Reliever Tyler Beardsley (2-2) took the loss, allowing the go-ahead run in the ninth inning.
The Rascals (24-20) look for the sweep over the Otters (23-20) tomorrow afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 pm CT.