One night after tying their season-high with 13 runs, the River City Rascals (39-35) managed just three and fell 7-3 in the series finale against the Evansville Otters (40-31) Sunday evening at CarShield Field.
The defeat marks the Rascals sixth series loss at home this year and they are now 9-21 this year when scoring three runs or less.
On the mound for the Rascals was southpaw Lucas Laster. Evansville opened up the scoring against him with two runs in the top of the first inning. Catcher Dane Phillips was the first to put his team on the board with a sacrifice fly to drive in leadoff man Ryan Long. After a walk and a stolen base from Jeff Gardner, he would scamper home on a RBI single from Zach Welz to take a 2-0 lead.
The Rascals didn’t scratch anything across in their first opportunity despite a one out walk, but they would respond in the bottom of the second inning when Jason Merjano drove in Brandon Thomas via a RBI single to cut the deficit to a single run at 2-1.
That would be the closest the Rascals would come to pulling even as the opponent got that run back in the top of the fourth inning and then loaded the bases against Laster to have the chance to break the game open.
The bases became loaded on a single from Chris Riopedre and then back-to-back walks to Ryan Long and Josh Allen. Dane Phillips made Laster pay for those two walks with a two-out, two-RBI single into left field to take a 5-1 lead. The half inning would conclude right there as Josh Allen was thrown out at third by catcher Mike Jurgella.
The Frontier League leader in home runs, Jeff Gardner, notched the Otters sixth run with his 20th homer of the year right before the stretch. The Rascals plated their final two runs after that despite not recording another RBI.
Josh Silver darted home on a double play for the Rascals second run and an error on the Otters second baseman allowed Paul Kronenfeld to score.
The error brought the Rascals within three runs at 6-3 going into the ninth. The scoring was finalized at 7-3 after a bases-loaded walk issued to Nick Walker.
Laster took the loss — his second of the year and — allowed five runs, all earned, on nine hits, four walks one strikeout in five innings. Shane Weedman was on the winning side of the decision and lasted six frames, giving up two earned runs on four hits and one strikeout. Weedman also walked five but got a pair of double play balls to help limit the damage.
Offensively, the Rascals tallied seven hits and Jason Merjano and Josh Ludy each notched a pair. The two hit game for Ludy was his second of the series.
Despite the loss, the Rascals sit just 1.5 games back from the final wild card spot with 22 games remaining and the hunt to get back into the playoffs for the third year in a row continues as the Rascals welcome the Gateway Grizzlies Tuesday night.
First pitch at CarShield Field is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. with Reese Gregory on the mound.