NORMAL, Ill. – It didn’t take long for the Normal CornBelters to get on the board in the opening game of the 2014 season. The CornBelters took the lead in the first inning and did not look back, shutting out the Evansville Otters, 5-0.
In the first inning, Santiago Chirino roped a ball to left field, just out of the reach of diving left-fielder Chris Elder. The ball rolled to the wall, and Chirino cruised into third with a triple. Mike Schwartz would drive him in with a sacrifice fly to deep center.
The CornBelters showed their power with two solo home runs.
Roman Hernandez drove a fastball over the left field wall in the fourth inning for a 2-0 lead. In the sixth inning, Tyler Shover drove a full-count, two-out pitch over the right-center field fence for a 3-run lead. Shover had a strong 3-for-4 showing at the plate.
In the eighth inning, Chirino smacked a double to the right-center gap, plating two insurance runs. Both runs were unearned after an error by the second baseman, which would have ended the inning.
Schwartz’s RBI in the first inning proved to be all the offense the CornBelters needed. Four CornBelters pitchers combined to shutout the Otters, scattering four hits.
Drew Provence (1-0) picked up the win, going five strong while allowing only four baserunners. David Wynn hurled two innings of relief, picking up three strikeouts along the way. Rich Mascheri and Alan Oaks pitched the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to close out the game.
Zach Petersime (0-1) was tallied with the loss for the Otters, allowing two runs on four hits.
The CornBelters play the second game of their series with the Otters Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Corn Crib. Right-hander Michael Schweiss takes the mound for the CornBelters while lefty Chad James will be on the bump for the Otters.