Friday, June 29, 2012
Bullpen Seals Sweep
AVON, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers completed the sweep over the River City Rascals Friday night at All Pro Freight Stadium by a final count of 3-2, giving the Crushers their second series sweep of the season.
The Crushers bullpen pitched five innings of shutout baseball in relief of starter Josh Rickards, as closer Jonathan Kountis sealed the deal with his four out save in 1.1 innings pitched (7).
With the victory, the Crushers (19-20) have won five straight contests, marking their longest winning streak of the season. The loss for the Rascals (22-17) was their 11th on the road this season.
The Crushers struck first in the third inning with two runs to make it 2-0 Lake Erie. Wally Correa took first base to lead off the frame after being hit by a pitch, and then eventually went to second on a wild pitch with Robby Kuzdale at the plate. Kuzdale would walk to put runners at first and second with one out, until Jason Taylor belted an RBI single that plated Correa. Russ Moldenhauer would follow up Taylor’s RBI single with one of his own after his sacrifice fly plated Kuzdale.
The Rascals would immediately tie the game in the fourth with two runs of their own. Doug Sanders led off the frame with a single, and then was plated two hitters later following Bobby Burk’s two-run homerun (4).
Lake Erie would not waste any time however in going back on the offensive in the bottom of the fourth as Kellen Kulbacki scored, after his leadoff double, on a J.C. Figueroa RBI single to take an eventual final score advantage of 3-2.
From the fifth inning on, it was all the Crushers bullpen. Ben Klafczynski came on in relief of starter Josh Rickards who only managed to go four innings. Klafczynski was able to get out of a jam in the fifth inning after the first three hitters reached in the inning. Curran Redal was gunned down trying to steal second by Crushers catcher Rich Witten, and then with Eric Williams on third and Chris Andreas at first, Klafczynski was able to strikeout Gerardo Avila and Doug Sanders to end the inning.
River City did have their chances in the eighth and ninth innings, but the relentless Crushers bullpen rose to the occasion. With two outs in the eighth, and Kountis in for Travis Risser who recorded the first two outs of the inning, Burk singled and stole a base to put runners at second and third. Josh Workman would then walk to load the bases as the Rascals looked to take the lead to try and salvage at least one game in the series. Kountis would not let that happen as he forced catcher Ben Hewett to pop out to Jason Taylor at first to end the inning, and protect the Crushers one run edge.
Then in the ninth, a walk and a stolen base by Eric Williams with nobody out to start the ninth prompted a potential last ditch effort by the Rascals to tie the game, or, take the lead. Kountis would however retire Redal on a sacrifice bunt, and then force Chris Andreas to pop out to third. Kountis then struck out Avila to end the ballgame, marking Avila’s second strikeout in the contest.
River City left ten runners stranded on base in the ballgame, for a grand total of 31 in three games against the Crushers. 20 of those 31 runners stranded were runners in scoring position.
Ben Klafczynski (2-0) picks up the victory after pitching a shutout fifth inning. He allowed one hit, struck out two, and walked one.
River City starting pitcher Tony Marsala (2-3) was credited with the loss despite only allowing three earned runs in six innings of work.
Offensively for Lake Erie, Adrian Ortiz’s one-for-four hitting performance extends his hitting streak to franchise best 21 consecutive games, while Jason Taylor’s two-for-three night extends his hitting streak to nine straight. Taylor has now also reached base in 24 consecutive contests. Russ Moldenhauer’s one-for-three performance extends his on base streak to 20 straight games.
The Crushers will begin a three game series against the Florence Freedom at the home of the Florence Freedom on Saturday night. Right hander Eric Gonzalez-Diaz (2-4, 4.27) will start for the Crushers, and the Freedom will counter with right hander Alec Lewis (2-4, 3.00). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM.
by Howard Regal