The Evansville Otters used three home runs to defeat the Gateway Grizzlies 9-3 on Thursday night in the rubber game of a three-game series at GCS Ballpark in Sauget.
The three home runs given up by the Gateway pitching staff accounted for six of Evansville’s nine runs. The Grizzlies (23-39) trailed 4-0 after the first inning and couldn’t claw back.
Gateway starter Vince Molesky (3-4) allowed the first three batters of the game to reach in the first inning. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Chris Sweeney and the Otters' center fielder delivered a towering grand slam over the left field fence to push Evansville out to an early 4-0 lead.
After a rough start, Molesky worked himself into a groove and held the Otters (43-20) scoreless in the following three innings. The Gateway offense backed him up with two runs in the fourth to cut the deficit in half at 4-2.
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Back-to-back singles by Ben Waldrip and Craig Massoni started the inning and Richard Seigel later singled to load the bases with two outs. Madison Beaird followed with a two-RBI double to plate Waldrip and Massoni, which put Gateway within striking distance.
Molesky recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts, but once again fell victim to the home run ball later in the game. Chris Sweeney homered with one out in the fifth to put Evansville up 5-2 and John Schultz extended the lead once more with a solo shot to lead off the seventh.
Former big leaguer Brett Marshall kept the Gateway offense in check throughout his Frontier League debut. The right-hander allowed only two runs on five hits in six innings of work. Gateway added a run in the eighth inning against the Evansville bullpen, but couldn’t muster anything more.
Craig Massoni led the way offensively with two hits.
The Grizzlies continue their six-game homestand on Friday night with a weekend series against the Schaumburg Boomers.