Story by Andy Barch
Photos courtesy of the Lake Erie Crushers
The Lake Erie Crushers made a 4-0 deficit disappear at All Pro Freight Stadium on Friday night.
Brandon Decker’s ninth inning sacrifice bunt, combined with a throwing error that scored two to complete the comeback in a 5-4 victory over the Road Warriors. The victory for the Crushers, now 35-28, was their third in their final at bat this season, and gives them five out of their last six at home.
The Road Warriors, taking the place of the now-defunct London Rippers, fell to 1-2 with the loss.
The contest endured a one hour and five minute rain delay with a runner on second and one out in the bottom of the fifth. Starting pitching dominated the contest until the rain came, then both teams used two out rallies in the second half of the contest to get on the board.
The Road Warriors scored all of their runs with two outs in the sixth inning. There were runners at the corners with two outs, when Ben Magsig stroked the first of four consecutive run scoring singles. Doug Thennis, Will Arnold and Ryan Kaup followed with RBI base hits to complete the big inning.
The Crushers capitalized on a couple of errors and a wild pitch to dig back into the contest.
Adrian Ortiz belted a two out single to score Brian Erie, then a wild pitch scored both Decker and Ortiz to make it a 4-3 contest. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Erie led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a ground ball to Kaup at third. Kaup couldn’t handle it, and it would be his first of two errors in the inning. J.C. Figueroa followed with a bunt base hit, putting two on with nobody out for Decker.
Decker dropped a bunt down, and it rolled halfway between the mound and the plate. Kaup made a sliding stop on the ball and made an attempt to throw out Erie at third base. Kaup’s throw ended up going down the left field line, and the errant throw brought both Erie and Figueroa home to end the game.
Pat Arnold started the game for the Crushers and tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just a hit while fanning four, but was taken out after the rain delay. Jonathan Kountis (2-2) threw a scoreless ninth inning to score the victory, while Jared Christensen (0-1) was tagged with the loss.
Figueroa and Robby Kuzdale paced the Crushers offensively, with two hits each, while seven of Lake Erie’s starting nine reached safely in the contest.
The Crushers will begin a three game series with the Washington Wild Things at All Pro Freight Stadium Saturday night. Right hander Alex Loftin (4-1, 4.24 ERA) will start for the Crushers, and the Wild Things will counter with right hander Chris Smith (6-4, 2.81). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Crushers split Thursday doubleheader
On Thursday, Lake Erie came from behind to take the first game of its twin bill against the newly-formed Road Warriors, then fell one run short in game two, in a double header split.
The Crushers fell behind early in both games, but were able to overcome a 3-0 deficit in game one. The Road Warriors, under the watchful eye of Avon High baseball coach Frank DeSmit, scored three in the third inning of game one to take an early lead.
Tyler Hall drove in Taylor Oldham on a sacrifice fly, before Matt Wright reached on Jason Taylor’s error which allowed Wesley Jones to score. They got their final run on Ben Magsig’s sacrifice fly which scored Aaron Glaum.
Lake Erie got one of those runs back in the bottom of the third. Wally Correa began the inning with a walk, and scored on Figueroa’s sacrifice fly.
Thennis drove in the Road Warriors’ final run of the contest on an RBI single in the fifth inning before the Crushers came storming back.
Taylor brought the Crushers back within two (4-2) on a fifth inning single to score Ortiz, and Kuzdale drove in Andrew Davis on a groundout to make it 4-3 at the end of six.
The Crushers rallied back and won for just the second time in their final at bat. Figueroa walked with one out, and moved to second on Moldenhauer’s free pass. Davis then belted a walk off two-run double to the gap in left center field, completing a 5-4 come`from`behind victory.
The Road Warriors scored five times in the first three innings of the second contest and built a 5-0 lead that they would not surrender.
The Crushers battled back slowly. Daniel Bowman put the Crushers on the board with a solo homer in the third inning, and scored again in the bottom of the sixth. He led off the sixth inning with a single, and scored when Kuzdale reached on Hall’s throwing error at second base.
Lake Erie put another threat together in the ninth. Moldenhauer belted a one out RBI double to score Taylor and scored on Bowman’s base hit moments later. The Crushers had the bases loaded with one out, when Chris Kaminski retired Correa and Kuzdale to seal the deal.
Travis Risser (3-3) was the winner in game one, going a third of an inning, and retired the only batter he faced on one pitch, while Kaminski (0-1) took the loss. Kevin McGovern (1-0) allowed just an unearned run over two innings in game two to earn the win, while Gonzalez-Diaz allowed five runs on seven hits over 2.2 innings in the loss.
Bowman and Moldenhauer both hit safely multiple times in the second game, while the Crushers were held to just three hits in game one. Bowman went 3-for-4 in game two with a pair of runs scored and two RBI. Moldenhauer went 2-for-3 with a single, a double, scored once and drove one home.
East Division Standings
1. Traverse City 40-23 (.635, - ); 2. Southern Illinois 37-26 (.587, 3 GB); 3. Lake Erie 35-28 (.556, 5 GB); 4. Florence 34-29 (.540, 6 GB); 5. Evansville 27-36 (.429, 13 GB); 6. Washington, Pa. 24-37 (.393, 16 GB); 7. Road Warriors 1-2 (.333)
1. Traverse City 40-23 (.635) - East Division leader
2. Schaumburg 38-25 (.603) - West Division leader
3. Southern Illinois 37-26 (.587)
4. Windy City 36-26 (.581)
5. Gateway 36-27 (.571)
6. Lake Erie 35-28 (.556)
7. Florence 34-29 (.540)
(The two division winners and the two teams after that with the best winning percentage, regardless of division, qualify for the Frontier League Playoffs. The regular season ends Sept. 2, with the playoffs beginning Sept. 5.)