After an 0-4 start and a rough ERA, Nicely went into Wednesday’s start winning his last two starts, allowing only two runs.
Nicely went up against Reign Letkeman of the Grizzlies, and both pitchers were locked in early on. Letkeman made it through the Otters’ lineup the first time around in order.
Nicely ran into a situation with runners on the corner in the bottom of the second but was not phased, leaving those runners on base.
There were only a combined three hits through four innings between both teams.
The Otters recorded their first hit on a double from Long in the fourth.
Evansville broke through first in the top of the fifth as Hunter Cullen knocked in Mike Rizzitello, who reached base with a single and moved over to second on a stolen base, to give the Otters a 1-0 lead.
The Otters would add two more in the sixth, finding some offensive rhythm.
After Keith Grieshaber singled with two outs, Long blasted a two-run home run over the right field wall to give the Otters a 3-0 lead.
In addition to hitting his ninth home run, the All-Star third baseman recorded his 40th and 41st RBIs.
Grizzlies starter Letkeman finished the sixth, earning the loss in his second start since coming back from injury. He went six innings while allowing three runs on six hits and six strikeouts.
Nicely continued to do his job the bump for the Otters, pitching into the eighth inning.
The Otters’ left-hander started the eighth with strikeout, but he turned the ball over to the bullpen following a double by Gateway’s Connor Owings.
Nicely threw 7.1 shutout innings, walking one and striking out six. He was credited with the win, his third straight.
With runners on second and third, Otters reliever Malcolm Grady struck out Zach Taylor looking to finish off the eighth inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Taylor Wright entered the game to close it out for the Otters.
Wright struck out Tuesday’s hero Dustin Woodcock and Christian Funk, picking up his 33rd and 34th strikeouts on the season. The right-hander then got Shawon Dunston Jr. to fly out to end the game and earn his sixth save of the season.
Thursday’s series finale from Gateway will start at 7:05 p.m.
Jake Welch will take the mound for the Otters Thursday while the Grizzlies will send Jordan Barrett.
Broadcast coverage can be found on 91.5 WUEV-FM and evansvilleotters.com with Dave Nguyen on the call.
The Otters are celebrating their 25th anniversary season in 2019.
To purchase a season ticket or group outing package, call (812) 435-8686 or visit the Bosse Field front office at 23 Don Mattingly Way, Evansville, Ind. The front office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Evansville Otters are the 2006 and 2016 Frontier League champions.
The Otters play all home games at historic Bosse Field, located at 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Ind. Stay up-to-date with the Evansville Otters by visiting evansvilleotters.com, or follow the Otters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
For more information, visit evansvilleotters.com or call 812-435-8686.