Prospect League teams honor 20-year-old pitcher who died in car accident

·3 min read
The Springfield Lucky Horseshoes huddle for a prayer prior to a home game against Clinton at Robin Roberts Stadium on Friday, July 1. It was Springfield's first game after one of its players, Lucas Otto, was killed in a car crash on Thursday.
The Springfield Lucky Horseshoes huddle for a prayer prior to a home game against Clinton at Robin Roberts Stadium on Friday, July 1. It was Springfield's first game after one of its players, Lucas Otto, was killed in a car crash on Thursday.

The Springfield Lucky Horseshoes and Clinton LumberKings began Friday’s game at Robin Roberts Stadium remembering Lucas Otto.

The 20-year-old Arthur native and Horseshoes pitcher died from a two-car collision on Wednesday night.

The Horseshoes wore black armbands displaying Otto’s No. 30 and had a moment of silence before the opening pitch.

Background: Pitcher for Springfield baseball team dies in head-on collision on Interstate 72

“We just wanted to come out here and play in his honor,” Horseshoes field manager Zach George said. “It's tough because it's on our minds. It was great for that other team to show respect in that regard. It's so sickening for something like that to happen to such a great kid, and our thoughts and prayers are with that family.”

The LumberKings also honored Otto by yielding a 3-0 count to the leadoff hitter in the first inning.

“Coach (Jack Dahm) came up to me and he's like, 'Let's start the batter 3-0,' and I was like, 'Perfect,'” said Clinton starting pitcher Jared Simpson. “Condolences to that family. It's sad. I was like, 'Let's do it.'”

Williamsville High School graduate Connor Carter started on the mound for the Horseshoes. He gave up three runs in the first inning before settling in and allowed just one more run in the next three innings.

Clinton, based in Iowa, tacked on four more runs against the bullpen in the eighth inning to clinch a 9-2 Prospect League victory.

Springfield Lucky Horseshoes center fielder Nasir Frederick slides into third base during the third inning against Clinton in a Prospect League contest at Robin Roberts Stadium on Friday, July 1.
Springfield Lucky Horseshoes center fielder Nasir Frederick slides into third base during the third inning against Clinton in a Prospect League contest at Robin Roberts Stadium on Friday, July 1.

“It was tough for sure but just knowing that Lucas was there watching us, it gave me some help,” Carter said. “It's tough times, but we've got a team and we're coming together as a team and staying together. It's brought us together, but it's definitely tough.”

Springfield, which canceled Thursday’s road game at Quincy, will play 10 more consecutive games until its next break on July 12.That includes back-to-back home games on Sunday and Monday. Both contests start at 6:30 p.m.

If the 'Shoes fit: Despite a long road and a few bumps, baseball is back in Springfield

“I think we just got to keep them on the field and keep their mind focused on the task at hand and also remembering that player that was along the ride with us,” George said. “He's up there now wishing for us to play hard and play for him, so that's what we got to do. We just got to get through these next few days, weeks, month or whatever it is and just keep taking it one day at a time.”

Carter said they just have to keep their heads up.

“We've just got to stay positive, work together as a team and try to get some wins,” Carter said.

Contact Bill Welt: (217) 788-1545, bill.welt@sj-r.com, Twitter.com/BillWelt

This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Prospect League baseball: Springfield Lucky Horseshoes honor Lucas Otto