Baseball: Slammers fall 3-1 to Evansville Otters in home finale
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media August 29, 2013 10:56PM
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:29AM
“I believe in the church of baseball,’’ the opening line in “Bull Durham,’’ fits many of the Joliet Slammers’ fans who came to Silver Cross Field on Thursday night for the final home game of the season.
Joliet had lost eight of its previous 10 home games and is struggling to stay out of last place in the Frontier League West Division.
Despite those numbers, the Slammers still drew a supportive crowd of 3,725 on Fan Appreciation Night, a 3-1 loss to the Evansville Otters.
“It’s one of my favorite nights,’’ Slammers general manager Chris Franklin said of the event, which included a $5,000 drawing and other giveaways. “It’s about the fans. Without the fans, we don’t have jobs. We don’t get to do what we love to do.’’
“They’ve been very good, they’ve been behind us,’’ Slammers manager Mike Breyman said before the start of the series.
Joliet didn’t give the enthusiastic crowd much to cheer about before the fireworks show. The Slammers had eight hits and eight walks, but left 14 runners on base.
Joliet (35-54) was swept in a series for the sixth time this season and the fourth time at home.
Slammers starter Chuck Lofgren gave up just two hits through the first four innings, but four walks in the second helped Evansville go ahead 2-0.
Joliet once again this series put across a run with the speed of leadoff hitter Darian Sandford. After his single to start the bottom of the fifth, Sandford stole two bases and scored on Nick Akins’ base hit to make it a 2-1 game.
Sandford had set a single-game franchise record with four stolen bases in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss.
The Slammers nearly had a run in the fourth, but Jerod Yakubik (double) was thrown out trying to score from second on a base hit to right by Grant DeBruin.
Joliet doesn’t get an easy finish to its difficult season. The final two series are at Traverse City and Schaumburg, teams that started Thursday’s schedule at the top of their respective divisions.
Mike Barsotti (1-2, 2.66 ERA) will pitch the series opener Friday at Traverse City. Reliever Chase Doremus (4-4, 2.52 ERA) is scheduled to get his first start of the season in the second game Saturday and Andrew Busby (0-6, 2.98 ERA) will pitch the series finale on Sunday.
The Slammers went into Thursday’s schedule only 1½ games ahead of last-place Rockford.