‘Belters edge Crushers
Crushers fall, 3-2 to Normal
AVON, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers left the tying run stranded at second base in the ninth inning of Wednesday night’s contest, as the dropped a 3-2 decision to the Normal Cornbelters in front of 5,036 fans at all Pro Freight Stadium.
The loss for the Crushers (44-36) drops their record to 16-15 in one run games, while the victory for Normal (27-53) gives them three in their last four games.
While the two teams scored just five times, they tallied 19 hits combined, and together, they left 15 runners on base.
After four scoreless innings of action, the Cornbelters plated the game’s first run in the top of the fifth. Sam Judah started the inning with a single and made his way to second after Eric Gonzalez-Diaz issued a free pass to Randy Wells. Andrew Cohn then flew out to left, before Gonzalez-Diaz was called for a balk, putting runners on second and third. Moments later, Judah scored the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly from Bubby Williams.
Normal added to their lead an inning later. They had the bases loaded with nobody out, when Gonzalez-Diaz was replaced by Ben Klapfczynski. The first batter he faced, Ernie Banks, lined into a double play, before Judah stroked an RBI single to give the ‘Belters a 2-0 lead.
The Crushers battled back and cut into the deficit in the bottom of the inning. J.C. Figueroa started the inning with a single, and stole second base before moving to third on Daniel Bowman’s fly out to left. Jason Taylor drove him home moments later on a groundout.
Lake Erie took advantage of a pair of wild pitches and tied the game in the bottom of the seventh. Wally Correa reached on a one out single, and advanced to second base on an errant throw from Rinard in center. A wild pitch moved him to third, and he scored the tying run on Kaleb Engelke’s (1-0) second wild pitch of the inning.
In the ninth, Trey Manz pinch hit for Williams, and started the inning with a double to the gap in left center. Jesse Olivar then bunted his way aboard, and moved Manz over to third base. Rinard then executed a squeeze bunt, and brought Manz home to plate the eventual game winning run.
Engelke allowed one inherited run, but none of his own over an inning and two-thirds, and scored the victory, while Mitch Mormann (1) earned his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning. Mickey Jannis (1-4) suffered the loss, after allowing a run on three hits in one inning of relief.
Seven out of the starting nine hit safely at least once for the Crushers, including Robby Kuzdale who paced the Lake Erie offense with a pair of singles, going 2-for-4 on the night.
The Crushers will finish their three-game series with the Normal Cornbelters at All Pro Freight Stadium on Thursday night. Right hander Pat Arnold (0-0, 1.78) will start for the Crushers, and the Cornbelters will counter with right hander Brendon Smith (2-5, 3.69). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.
by Andy Barch
All Pro Freight Stadium
2009 Baseball Boulevard
Avon, Ohio 44011