The Normal CornBelters, were pushed to extra innings for the second consecutive night but fell 8-6 to the Evansville Otters Thursday night in ten frames. Normal falls to 27-28 with the loss while Evansville moves to 19-36 on the season.
Evansville trailed 6-4 and was one strike away from a loss, but the Otters evened the score with a late rally. Joe Spiers singled home Greg Fontenot with one out to cut Normal's lead 6-5. CornBelter reliever Liam Ohlmann then allowed a single to Greg Alexander which plated Ryan Still and tied the game 6-6.
Despite getting Frank Martinez to third in the bottom of the ninth, the CornBelters were unable to push the winning run across in regulation.
The Otters tacked on two more in the 10th to gain their first lead of the evening. Mike Durant walked to start the extra frame and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Steve Caseres. Troy Frazier then plated Durant with a single off CornBelter reliever Donald Furrow. Frazier would score on a throwing error later in the inning to give Evansville an 8-6 lead.
Starters Ryan Sheldon and Kyle Barry received no-decisions, Josh Cephas (W, 3-2) worked two innings walking three and striking out three. Donald Furrow (L, 0-1) went one inning, giving up two runs on two walks and one hit.
The CornBelters grabbed a pair of runs early in the game. With Steve Alexander and Martinez both in scoring position, Asif Shah doubled into left-center field to put Normal on top 2-0 in the 1st.
Evansville did not get on the board until Greg Alexander led of the 4th inning with a solo blast to cut Normal's lead 2-1.
Normal wasted no time getting the run back in bottom of the frame. Alexander reached second on a throwing error by Spiers and moved to third on a wild pitch by Otters starter Kyle Barry. Daniel Cox's sac fly allowed Alexander to cross home and gave Normal a 3-1 lead.
The Otters came within one again in the next inning as Frazier came aboard thanks to an error by Martinez. Fontenot's sac bunt and a Still single moved Frazier over to third base. Spiers then hit a potential double-play groundball, but beat the throw at first, allowing Frazier to score bringing Evansville closer 3-2.
Mike Mobbs sparked the offense in the 5th, leading off with a double to right field. Brandon Newton's groundout transitioned Mobbs to third and a similar groundball by Martinez pushed another run across for the Belters leading 4-2.
The Otters touched on Ryan Sheldon again in the 6th, this time to tie the game. With two on and one out, Sheldon's wild pitch moved Alexander and Frazier to both second and third base. Caseres then doubled into left-center field evening the score 4-4.
Normal regained the lead in the seventh at the expense of Evansville's bullpen. One hit, one error, and one walk loaded the bases for Shah. A walk to Shah forced home Mobbs, followed by another walk to Cox plating Martinez and giving the CornBelters a 6-4 lead.
The CornBelters and Otters will meet again Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Corn Crib. Normal sends Matt Mossey (1-0, 3.60) against Evansville's Kyle Eastham (0-3, 5.32).