The Evansville Otters fought back well after a slow start Thursday, rallying just a run shy in an 8-7 loss to the Joliet Slammers, and on a night when the Otters organization recognized Boots Day before his retirement.
During Thursday’s pregame ceremonies, the Otters presented Boots Day with a special gift to take with him, as he plans to retire at the end of the 2021 season. Special videos with congratulatory remarks from Day’s peers were played on the video board.
In the game, the Otters were baffled early, as the Slammers were tough outs to get in the first inning.
The Slammers scored the first run on an RBI double. Then Luke Mangieri, who was traded to Joliet from Evansville’s West Division rival Southern Illinois Miners, hit a grand slam to give Joliet a 5-0 lead.
Dylan Hardy added another run before the end of the first.
Evansville starter Polo Portela, who took the eventual loss, got only one out and allowed six runs before handing the ball off to reliever Joe Riley.
Riley pitched well in relief, going 4.2 innings scoreless with five punchouts.
The Otters scored their first run in the third off a Joliet error.
Evansville came back within 6-4 in the fifth, thanks to a two-RBI single by J.R. Davis and an RBI double by Dakota Phillips.
The Slammers pushed it back to a three-game, 7-4, when Scott Holzwasser hit a solo home run in the sixth. In the seventh, his solo home run was followed by another solo homer from Carson Maxwell, making the score 8-4.
A run on a wild pitch and a sac fly in the bottom of the seventh brought Evansville back to a two-run deficit 8-6.
The Otters chipped away again in the eighth on an RBI double by Riley Krane, cutting into Joliet’s lead to within a single run, 8-7.
However, the Slammers called upon their closer Trevor Charpie to pitch the last 1.1 innings to get the save and seal the rubber match win for Joliet.
Joliet’s Tom Walker pitched five innings, allowing four runs – three earned – with six strikeouts in the start for the win.
Offensively for Evansville, the Otters spread out their 10 hits up and down the lineup. Josh Allen had two hits, while J.R. Davis had two hits and three RBIs.
In the series, Davis went 7 for 10 with eight RBIs.
Following Thursday’s games, the Otters are a half game back of the Florence Y’alls after their win Thursday night.
The Otters’ magic number in their push for the postseason is four.
The Otters open their regular season finale series Friday at 6:35 p.m. from Bosse Field.