The hit parade started early for the Otters when Mike Rizzitello scored David Cronin on an RBI single to give Evansville a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
The top of the second inning turned out to be a momentum changer in the game.
With runners on first and second and one out, Crushers first baseman Jake Veith was called for batters’ interference as the ball bounced to the left of Rizzitello behind the plate. The interference call prevented Zach Racusin from scoring at third base, and Veith struck out.
Another strikeout from Otters starter Jake Welch to Bryan DeLaRosa ended the inning, an opportunity that the Crushers did not capitalize on.
The Otters would take advantage of the mistake in the bottom of the second.
Rob Calabrese smashed his sixth home run of the year with a solo shot to left field to extend the Otters’ lead to two.
That was just the beginning as the Otters would send 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the third, scoring five runs.
Rizzitello hit a two-RBI double, Calabrese hit an RBI single, and J.J. Gould followed with a two-run single, giving the Otters a commanding 7-0 lead.
The five runs in the third would chase Lake Erie starter Alex Romero, who went 2.2 innings, allowing seven runs on six hits while fanning six Otters. With the loss, he falls to 2-2 with both losses coming against the Otters.
Welch would take control on the mound from there for the Otters, pitching into the seventh inning.
With runners on first and second and one out, Welch struck out Dale Burdick to record his 12th strikeout of the game. Drew Beyer would come on in relief to record the final out of the inning, forcing Racusin to fly out to Hunter Cullen in centerfield.
Welch earned the win, his second against Lake Erie, and improved his record to 4-3. Welch went 6.2 shutout innings, giving up only five hits, and finishing with a season-high 12 strikeouts.
Welch has totaled 14.2 shutout frames against the Crushers this season.
Offensively, the Otters showed a little more power in the eighth inning as Carlos Castro crushed his ninth home run of the season to push the Otters’ lead to eight. The home run extended Castro’s on-base streak to 16 consecutive games.
New Otters’ signee Cam Opp finished the game off with a clean ninth on the mound.
Game two of the series will be Saturday at 6:35 pm from Bosse Field with Austin Nicely taking the hill for the Otters. He will be opposed by Jared Koenig for Lake Erie.
Broadcast coverage can be found on 91.5 WUEV-FM and streamed on the Otters Digital Network via YouTube with Dave Nguyen on the call.
Saturday is Superhero Night presented by Bob’s Gym and the Boys and Girls Club. Fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite superheroes, getting pictures and autographs. Kids are invited to wear superhero costumes as well.
Sunday’s game will be sponsored by Trilogy Health Services.
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.