Baseball: ThunderBolts roll past Evansville Otters 7-1
The Windy City ThunderBolts are in sixth place in the seven-team Frontier League West Division, but T-Bolts catcher Zach Aakhus said he saw a team capable of much more on the field in Thursday night’s 7-1 win over the Evansville Otters.
“We played like a first-place team,” Aakhus said. “This is the way we need to play every night.”
Aakhus drove in four runs and Matt Wickswat tossed a gem to earn his first win in more than six weeks as the T-Bolts turned in one of their best efforts of the season in front of 3,016 fans at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
The T-Bolts (25-34) broke through in the third as Aakhus (3-for-5) provided some clutch hitting.
With two outs, Ryan Soares singled and Chad Cregar walked. Aakhus then ripped a two-run double down the right-field line.
Windy City had been short on run support in Wickswat’s starts, at one point not scoring in 27 straight innings that Wickswat was on the mound for.
“We were aware of how we hadn’t been scoring for him and we really wanted to come out and get him some runs,” Aakhus said.
Evan Button (2-for-5) tripled to lead off the fifth and scored on a base hit by Mike Torres (2-for-4).
Wickswat, meanwhile, worked out of jams all night. He got some help from Aakhus in the fourth, as the T-Bolts catcher picked off C.J. Henry at third base with a laser of a throw.
Evansville (28-29) did not score in the frame despite two singles and two walks. Wickswat got Jordan Tripp to foul out with the bases loaded for the final out.
The Otters scored once in the sixth, but left the bases loaded again as Wickswat got John Nester on a popout. Wickswat wiggled out of trouble again in the seventh after allowing runners to second and third with one out.
Wickswat (3-9) allowed one run on six hits, striking out five and walking two over seven innings. He snapped a streak of seven straight losses and won for the first time since June 9.
“I was just getting ahead and pitching to contact,” he said. “It’s always great to get a win, but the main thing is the team victory. I just try to have a quality start every time and give us a chance.”
The T-Bolts broke it open with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, highlighted by Aakhus’ fifth homer of the year, a two-run blast to straightaway center that made it 6-1.
It’s a new career high in homers for Aakhus, who hit four in each of the previous three seasons.
“I guess you get a little savvy in your old age,” he said. “I’ve been stuck on four forever, and it felt good to get that career high.”
Cregar singled home Torres earlier in the frame.
Chase Tucker singled and scored on an error in the eighth.
The T-Bolts wore special uniforms as part of Autism Speaks Chicago Chapter Night’s Jersey Off Their Back promotion. The uniforms were auctioned off as a benefit for the charity.