Story by Andy Barch
Photos courtesy of the Lake Erie Crushers
The Washington Wild Things scored a trio of runs in the eighth inning of Sunday evening’s contest to pull away from Lake Erie, 6-1, to take the second game of the series at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The loss for the Crushers drops them to and marks their third loss in their last four games. The victory for the Wild Things (27-38) secures their first series victory against the Crushers this season.
Lake Erie left the bases loaded in the ninth inning and hit into three double plays on the night.
The Crushers scored first for the second night in a row, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Adrian Ortiz began the inning with a double down the line in left. Andrew Heck retrieved the ball and fired to second in an attempt to throw Ortiz out, but his throw went down the right field line, resulting in a two-base throwing error to bring Ortiz around.
The Wild Things tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. Mark Samuelson walked with one out and scored on a two out base hit from Jim Vahalik.
Washington plated a pair of runs in the fifth to take the lead for good. Chris Lloyd began the inning with a base hit and stole second before scoring the go ahead run on Gus Benusa’s single. Benusa scored the final run of the inning on Nunziato’s sacrifice fly.
A three-run eighth inning put the game away for the Wild Things. Nunziato started the rally with a one out single, before Brady Duffy issued three consecutive walks. The final free pass in that equation was issued to Shain Stoner and scored Nunziato. Vahalik and Rick Devereaux followed with back-to-back run scoring singles.
The Crushers once again posed a threat in the bottom of the ninth.
Andrew Davis stroked a one out single, before Daniel Bowman walked and Brian Erie singled to load the bases. Chandler Barnard then came in to retire Kyle Weldon and Robby Kuzdale on a pair of pop outs to end the contest.
Casey Barnes (3-5) scored the victory for the Wild Things, tossing seven strong innings and allowing just one unearned run on five hits with a pair of strikeouts. Barnard retired the only two batters he faced in the ninth inning to snag the save.
Paul Fagan took the loss despite another strong start to fall to 6-4 on the season. The lefty allowed three runs, two earned, on six hits while fanning eight over seven innings.
Six players hit safely for the Crushers, while Andrew Davis paced Lake Erie with a pair of hits on the night, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
The Crushers will finish their three game series with the Washington Wild Things at All Pro Freight Stadium Monday night. Left hander Josh Hungerman (0-0, 3.38) will start for the Crushers, while the Wild Things will counter with right hander Gary lee (4-3, 2.92). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Crushers nipped, 5-4, in series opener
The Crushers left the tying run on base in the ninth inning Saturday night and dropped the series opener the Wild Things.
The Crushers scored first for the first time in their last four games, but had to battle from behind after Washington plated four runs in the fourth inning to take a lead they would not surrender.
Davis began the second inning with a double, and Bowman was hit by a pitch. Weldon smacked a single to right field to load the bases with nobody out. Erie then hit into a 6-4-3 double play which scored Davis, but that was the only run the Crushers pushed across in the inning.
The Wild Things plated four runs on four hits in the top of the fourth inning. Andrew Heck began the inning with the first of four straight singles. Nunziato tied the game with an RBI single, and Mark Samuelson gave the Wild Things the lead with a run scoring single. Nunziato came home moments later on a wild pitch, and Shain Stoner brought Samuelson in on a sacrifice fly.
Lake Erie battled back, and narrowed the deficit to one (4-3) by plating a pair in the bottom of the fifth inning. Kuzdale led off with a double, and came home on Jason Taylor’s two out double. Russ Moldenhauer followed Taylor with a run scoring single.
It was a one run contest until Nunziato struck again in the top of the eighth inning. He sent Mickey Jannis’s 3-0 pitch over the wall in right field. It was his first bomb of the season, and it gave the Wild Things a 5-3 lead.
The Crushers responded in the home half of the eighth. Moldenhauer started the inning with a walk, and came home moments later on Bowman’s one out triple into the right field corner.
Lake Erie put a threat together in the ninth inning. Kuzdale, the ninth batter in the order, started the inning with a base hit. But he never got past first base as Washington closer Orlando Santos retired the final three batters to seal the deal and earn his fourth save.
Chris Smith (7-4) tossed six innings and allowed a trio of runs on seven hits while fanning five in the process to get the victory. Santos scored the save with a scoreless ninth inning. Alex Loftin took the loss and fell to 4-2 after surrendering four runs on six hits over five innings.
Eight out of the starting nine reached safely for the Crushers, while seven hit safely in the contest. Kuzdale and Weldon paced the Crushers with two hits each. Kuzdale went 2-for-3, and reached three times, while Weldon went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
East Division Standings
1. Traverse City 41-24 (.631, - ); 2. Southern Illinois 38-27 (38-27 (.585, 3 GB); 3. Lake Erie 35-30 (.538, 6 GB); 4. Florence 35-31 (.530, 6.5 GB); 5. Evansville 29-37 (.439, 12.5 GB); 6. London (defunct) 25-35 (.417, 13.5 GB); 7. Washington, Pa. 26-37 (.413, 14 GB); 8. Roads Warriors 2-3 (.400)