The River City Rascals (3-3) loaded the bases in the ninth inning but were unable to complete the comeback against the Evansville Otters (3-3) in the series finale, 7-4, Thursday night at CarShield Field.
In search for their second series win of the year, the Rascals found themselves trailing 7-2 going into the bottom of the eighth against the Otters second reliever of the night, southpaw Taylore Cherry.
Despite striking out the side, Cherry, a former Chicago White Sox minor leaguer, allowed the Rascals to chip away at the lead and there were two men in scoring position with two outs for fifth year shortstop Johnny Morales.
Down in the count 1-2, Morales ripped a ball into center to drive in Josh Silver and Josh Ludy to chip away at the lead and make a 7-4 contest.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Rascals had their backs up against the wall against the Otters closer Randy McCurry, who earned the stressful save in game two of the series.
With two outs and Brandon Thomas at first, Silver extended the game with a single and then a walk to Connor Teykl put the tying run on first base and the winning run in the batter’s box was Josh Ludy. In a similar situation Wednesday night, Ludy flew out to deep center to end the game and McCurry would win the battle for the second night in a row with a swinging strikeout to give his club the series win.
Earlier in the game, the Rascals jumped out to an early lead against Otters starter Hunter Ackerman with a two-run home run from Jason Merjano, his first of the year to put his team up 2-0.
On the opposite side of things, Rascals opening day starter Hector Hernandez kept the Otters bats at bay through the first two frames but they would answer with a home run of their own in the third to cut the lead in half, a solo shot from Lance Montano.
In the fourth, the Otters had their largest inning of the game and would go on to hold it the rest of the night. A total of three runs were scored with RBI singles from Lance Montano and Mitchell Ho, with the final run coming on a RBI groundout from Myles Babbitt.
Hernandez took the loss, his first of the year allowing four runs, earned, on seven hits and struck out five.
Evansville would scratch across three more runs the rest of the night and took their largest lead in the eighth inning off a RBI groundout and a passed ball. Both runs were charged to Swagerty and then the run prior to that, in the seventh, was a solo shot into right from Dane Phillips off Matt Chavarria.
Otters starter Hunter Ackerman got the win, his first of the year, lasting six innings and allowing two runs.
“I’m just going about the season day-by-day and I feel comfortable in the box, just taking what they are giving me and not trying to do too much.” It’s worked out for me so far.”
Offensively, the Rascals got a big night out of Mike Jurgella as he tallied his second three-hit game of the season.
“I’m just going about the season day-by-day and I feel comfortable in the box, just taking what they are giving me and not trying to do too much,” Jurgella said. “It’s worked out for me so far.”
Jimmy Kerrigan was the other Rascal with multiple hits with two for the first time in his career.
The River City Rascals continue their 2017 campaign Friday night against Southern Illinois Friday night at 7:05 p.m with Dan Ludwig on the mound.