It took 10 innings to decide Monday night’s game, but the Lake Erie Crushers (15-20) were able to grab the road victory, 3-2, over the Washington Wild Things after Wally Correa drove in the winning run by using his...head.
Correa, who had struck out four times in his first four at bats, walked up with the bases loaded and two out in the 10th inning. He watched as a 1-1 breaking ball hit him in the helmet for the game deciding run.
That allowed the Crushers to leave town with the series win and a record of 15-20. Lake Erie moved into fourth place in the Frontier League Eastern Division, one half game ahead of Evansville and eight games behind 23-12 Traverse City.
Unlike the previous two games in the series, the Crushers found themselves down early when leadoff batter Andrew Heck took the first pitch from Alex Loftin and dropped it over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.
The score would remain the same until the top of the seventh when with two out, Brian Erie ripped a double down the left field line off of reliever Nick Cicio. Adrian Ortiz then came up and scorched a double to right center field to drive in Erie, but the Crushers were not done.
Robby Kuzdale came up and hit a deep fly ball, which dropped in front of the fence and bounced off of the turf for a 2-1 lead. That lead would be short-lived, however, as the first pitch of the seventh inning from Loftin was hit over the videoboard in right field by Rick Devereaux, knotting the game at two.
The bullpens would trade zeroes until the top of the 10th when Chandler Barnard, who had gotten the first two outs of the inning, walked Andrew Davis and allowed a single to Kellen Kulbacki. With the runners at first and second, Steve Grife came in to relieve Barnard and allowed a sharply hit ball by J.C. Figueroa into the hole at short where Michael Mooney (0-2) gloved it, but did not have a play available.
That loaded the bases and brought up Correa, who used the least likely part of his body to force in the winning run.
Jonathan Kountis, who had come in to get the final out of the eighth inning, was still in the game and sealed the victory for the Crushers, but not without some hardship. Michael Bando worked a walk with one out and Doug Thennis came in to pitch run. With Michael Mooney at the plate and a 1-1 count, Thennis took off for second and the throw by Erie went into centerfield, allowing Thennis to reach third.
Kountis struck out Mooney when he chased a fastball out of the zone and got the final out of the game when Robby Kuzdale made a diving catch on a low, looping liner in shallow right center field.
The Crushers got another solid start from Loftin who received the no decision while going six-plus innings. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out six and walking one. Wild Things starter Casey Barnes was even better as he went six innings without allowing a run while striking out six and walking two.
Cicio was the loose cog for the Wild Things (14-20) as he went two thirds of an inning allowing two runs.
Kountis (1-1) picked up the win, striking out five while only walking one and allowing one hit. Barnard (0-3, 6.62), in his first performance for the Wild Things, picked up the loss while throwing three full innings, striking out four and walking two, one of them an intentional walk.
The Crushers have a day off before hosting the River City Rascals for a three game set. The probable starters in that series for the Crushers are Paul Fagan, Trevor Longfellow and Josh Rickards. First pitch Wednesday night is slated for 7:05 p.m.
Holiday tailgate party
The Crushers will host an Independence Day pre-game party at All Pro Freight Stadium beginning at 3 p.m., with the party ending at 6:30 p.m., when fans will be encouraged to enter for the game against the London Rippers. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m., with gates opening one hour prior to the first pitch.
The pre-game tailgate party will feature an All-American buffet, which is available for pre-sale for $12. There is also a pre-sale package available that will include a Home Box ticket and the All-American Buffet for a cost of $20.
The All-American buffet can be purchased the day of the game for $15, while the Home Box and buffet package will be available for $23.
The tailgate party and buffet will take place in the parking lot of All Pro Freight Stadium. The buffet will include hot dogs, hamburgers, coleslaw among other delicious Americana eateries. Entertainment will be available including a concer, tailgate games and more.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 440-934-3636, at the box office, or online at lakeeriecrushers.com. Follow the Crushers via social media on Facebook and Twitter (@LECrushers) for updates, photos, contests and specials.