Joliet Slammers pitcher Blair Walters makes a pickoff throw to first base Sunday vs. Evansville. | Tim Tierney/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 7, 2014 2:11AM
Simply put, the second Bark in the Park day this season was a real dog for the Joliet Slammers.
In their final home game before the Frontier League All-Star break, the Slammers struck out 14 times and managed just three hits Sunday in a 7-1 loss to the Evansville Otters in front of 1,629 fans and assorted canines at Silver Cross Field.
Tempers flared in the top of the ninth after Evansville tacked on four runs, including a home run off reliever Tyler Thicke in his professional debut.
Plate umpire Jim Mecha ruled Thicke threw at the next batter with a high pitch and tossed the Joliet pitcher. Catcher Tyler Roberts and Joliet manager Jeff Isom then were ejected after arguing Thicke’s ejection.
“Half our team got thrown out on that pitch,’’ Isom said. “I think the guy jumped the gun on it. I don’t think it was deserved. I guess the league will make that decision.’’
The Slammers (17-26) have lost 10 of their last 13 games and six of eight while struggling to stay out of the cellar in the West Division.
Evansville (26-17) is second in the East Division behind the Washington Wild Things.
Otters left-hander Blake Monar (1-1) recorded 11 strikeouts and held Joliet to two hits over six innings.
“He probably had the best stuff we’ve faced all year, breaking ball, changeup,’’ Joliet’s Grant DeBruin said. “He was throwing a cutter that had a lot of good movement on it.’’
“We knew their pitcher was pretty good coming in,’’ Isom said. “Stuff-wise, that’s probably the best we’ve seen.’’
DeBruin was 2-for-4 and raised his team-leading batting average to .357. He singled in the second and scored Joliet’s only run on a double by Marquis Riley that cut Evansville’s lead to 2-1.
Joliet left-hander Blair Walters (1-4, 2.66 ERA) gave up three runs and eight hits over 62/3 innings with six strikeouts and a walk.
“It was one of those days, I just had to battle,’’ Walters said. “The first few innings I was missing with my fastball. … As the game went on my stuff got better.’’
Next for the Slammers are two four-game road series this week, against Normal and Schaumburg. The All-Star break is July 14 to 17.
“We want to make ground,’’ Isom said. “We want to get as close to .500 as possible before the break.’’
“You’re going to win and lose games,’’ Walters said. “Obviously, it gets frustrating coming out and not being able to capitalize on a game or pull one out. But it’s one pitch, one hit, one play away.’’