Tim Koons turned in one of the greatest starts in Frontier League Championship Series history and Clint Freeman drove in the games lone run to lead the Rascals to a game two victory Wednesday night, 1-0, in Evansville, Indiana.
The Rascals right-hander took a perfect game into the seventh inning, a no-hitter into the eighth and ended up with a one hit complete-game shutout to even up the series at one game heading back to O’Fallon. Along with the Rascals second complete-game shutout of the postseason, Koons also had a career high in strikeouts with ten, including striking out the side in the opening frame.
“I went out there knowing that it was my last start of the year and the goal was to hopefully get a win to help the team out. I really want to get that ring, I’ve been here the last two years but have came up short,” Koons said. “They have a bunch of big hitters so I just went out there and filled up the zone, got a lot of swing and misses and everything worked out in my favor.”
The only Otters to reach were Josh Allen (HBP, BB), John Schultz (1B) and Jeff Gardner, who walked in the ninth inning to represent the tying run but was retired on a double play ball into right field that ended the masterpiece of Koons. With one out, Chris Riopedre flew out to right on the same pitch that Allen was on the move for second and he couldn’t get back to the base in time that ended the game.
“Going back out in the ninth around 98 pitches I knew if a couple guys got on or I gave up another hit I was probably getting pulled so I went out there with the same approach and got them to swing the bat,” Koons said.
“One of the greatest pitching performances I have ever seen in the Frontier League Championship Series,” Commissioner Bill Lee said.
In order to get the win, Koons had to get some offense and although he didn’t get much, he got just enough to earn his first ever postseason win in the Frontier League.
The Rascals run came in the second inning with two outs against the Otters starting southpaw Hunter Ackerman. Mike Jurgella singled up the middle and then ahead in the count 2-1, Clint Freeman laced a double to the left-center gap that brought Jurgella around to score from first and it ended up being the only run of the game.
Other offensive opportunities for the Rascals came in the third inning when Alexi Colon led off with a single and in the fifth inning when Robby Enslen walked and then was thrown out at the plate on what was inches away from being a RBI single from Josh Silver.
Taking the loss, Ackerman allowed just the one run on seven hits and struck out two in his second postseason appearance.
Out of the seven hits, Jurgella and Freeman led the way with two and three other players added one each.
Evansville Otters’ reliever Trevor Walch tossed the final two innings and allowed just one runner to reach on a walk.
After an off-day Thursday, the Rascals will host the Otters for gamest three and four of the Championship Series beginning Friday night at CarShield Field.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 with Rascals right-hander Dylan Brammer on the mound.