In a game that was a pitcher’s duel between Crushers starter Patrick Ledet and Otters starter Tyler Vail, runs were hard to come by early on.
Lake Erie struck first when Dale Burdick’s RBI double scored Emmanuel Marrero to give the Crushers a 1-0 lead after one.
After innings two through four were scoreless, the Otters were able to tie the game in the bottom of the fifth.
After Cullen led off with on a hit by pitch, Dakota Phillips knocked in Cullen from first base on an RBI double to tie the game at one.
In the top of the sixth and with runners on first and second, Lake Erie’s Brody Wofford moved both runners over a sac hit. Then Steven Kraft scored from third on an RBI groundout by Zach Racusin in the next at-bat to put the Crushers in front 2-1.
Vail would pitch a scoreless seventh inning, giving the Otters a chance to win. The veteran right-hander tossed seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits while throwing seven strikeouts. He ended up taking a no-decision.
The Otters were able to get to Ledet in the bottom of the seventh as J.J. Gould walked and David Cronin singled with one out, which led to reliever Augie Gallardo taking the baseball from Ledet.
Then a single by Keith Grieshaber would load the bases for the Otters.
With Ryan Long at the plate, a pass ball allowed Gould to score from third and advance the other two baserunners. Cronin would soon score from third as Long hit into a fielder’s choice with the throw home not in time to tag out Cronin, giving the Otters a 3-2 lead.
With Mike Rizzitello at the plate, Grieshaber at third, and Long at first, a wild pitch by Gallardo allowed Grieshaber to score, making the Otters’ advantage 4-2.
Ledet would be charged for the runs by Gould and Cronin, totaling to three earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched. The Crushers lefty allowed six hits while also striking out five. His line would also result in a no-decision.
In the top of the eighth, Lake Erie would bounce back with two runs of their own.
With two walks and a single to load the bases and no outs, Marrero was able to score from third on a wild pitch, bringing the Crushers within one.
A batter later, Racusin would record another RBI groundout, scoring Kraft to tie the game at four.
Otters reliever Cam Opp would minimize the damage there at 4-4.
In the bottom of the eighth and one out, Cullen hit his eighth home run of the season on a solo shot to right field off Crushers reliever Evy Ruibal to get the Otters back in front 5-4.
The top of the ninth was not easy for Otters closer Taylor Wright as the Crushers did not go down without one last effort.
A single and two walks loaded the bases, but with two outs, Wright got Burdick to hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the game and give Evansville the 5-4 series-opening win.
Evansville’s Opp would earn the win, recording two crucial strikeouts in the eighth to keep the Otters in the game, improving his record to 3-1.
Lake Erie’s Ruibal would get the loss, dropping his record to 1-3.
Wright would earn his 10th save of the season for the Otters.
Game two Wednesday from Bosse Field will start at 6:35 p.m.
Broadcast coverage can be found on the radio at 91.5 WUEV-FM or streamed online on the Otters Digital Network via YouTube with Dave Nguyen (play-by-play) and Bill McKeon (analyst) on the call.
The Otters are celebrating their 25th anniversary season in 2019.
Wednesday will be Courier and Press Night. Thursday’s game is a Bud Light Thirsty Thursday with special draft prices.
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.