Walk This Way
The two pitching staffs combined for 17 walks and the Crushers took advantage, taking an early lead, eventual victory.
CRESTWOOD, Ill. -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy, used excellent starting pitching and timely hitting and patience to take down the Windy City ThunderBolts, 7-4, winning the series.
For the Crushers (21-25), the win marks their second consecutive series win for the first time since they won back-to-back series against the River City Rascals and the Schaumburg Boomers to begin the season. They are 5-4 in the season series against the T-Bolts. The loss for the ThunderBolts (24-24) puts them at the .500 mark for the first time since they were 1-1 on May 13. Windy City has gone 2-10 in their last 12 games.
The Crushers grabbed the lead in the first inning against the ThunderBolts' starting pitcher Clay Chapman (5-3). After Connor Oliver struck out swinging, Brendan Costantino hit an infield single to third base. Jose Barraza and Eric Grabe were then walked to load the bases as Chapman struggled to find the strike zone. Richard Seigel was then hit by a pitch to plate the first Crusher run of the game. Barraza would score and put the Crushers up 2-0 after Sean Hurley was issued another free pass. Justin Byrd grounded into a double play to second base, ending the top half of the inning.
In the second inning, the Crushers would add another run. Max Casper smacked a one-out double to left field. Oliver and Costantino walked, loading the bases before Barraza hit a groundball fielder's choice to second base. Costantino was out but Casper came in to score.
In the bottom of the second inning, the ThunderBolts responded with a run. Taylor Smart reached first base on a groundball to the third baseman, Costantino, who committed an error on the throw to first. With two outs, Johnny Eierman hit an RBI double into the Crushers bullpen down the right field line, scoring Smart.
Lake Erie's starter, Steven Hagen (3-2) had to work out of trouble in the sixth inning. Windy City had Cody Keefer, who singled to left, on second base and Ransom LaLonde, who walked, on first with nobody out. Charley Thurber laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Following a five pitch walk to Smart, Larry Balkwill hit a line drive to first base. Barraza caught the ball and beat Smart to the bag for the double play.
To start the seventh inning, Eierman reached first base as the result of Hagen's fifth walk of the game. Tim Zier hit an RBI double to deep center field, scoring Eierman. The ThunderBolts trailed by one run, 3-2.
The Crushers had an opportunity to score a few insurance runs in the eighth inning, and they took advantage. T-Bolts' reliever, Isaac Gil walked Hurley and gave up a one-out single to Byrd. After striking out Bryan De La Rosa, Gil walked Casper to load the bases. Joel Lima then entered the game and walked Oliver on four pitches to score Hurley. Costantino was the next batter and he hit a bases-clearing double down the left field line, plating three runs.
The ThunderBolts would not go quietly the rest of the game. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Windy City's Smart walked and Balkwill hit an RBI double, making it a four run game. In the ninth inning, Coco Johnson reached on an error by Costantino. Bass and Keefer both hit singles and Keefer's single allowed Johnson to score. LaLonde stepped up to the plate representing the tying run. He grounded into a double play to the shortstop, Grabe, to end the game.
Hagen picked up the win as he went seven strong innings allowing two runs, one earned, and five hits for Lake Erie. He struck out five and walked five hitters. Brad Duffy took the mound for the first time since June 24 and he pitched the eighth inning, allowing a run on one hit. Keegan Ghidotti pitched the ninth inning allowing an unearned run.
For the T-Bolts, Chapman settled down after the second inning. He still took the loss after giving up three runs on three hits and six walks after six innings of work. Andrew Lowe pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Gil allowed three runs in 2/3 of an inning. Lima surrendered a run and went only 1/3 of an inning. Chris Chigas threw a scoreless ninth for Windy City.
Costantino had two hits, including a double and three RBI. He also walked twice. Six Crushers' hitters crossed the plate at least one time in this game. The contest began 31 minutes late due to rain.
The Crushers come back home to All Pro Freight Stadium and will begin a three game series with the Joliet Slammers on Friday. The Crushers will send left-handed pitcher Stetson Nelson (2-3, 4.54) to the mound while the Slammers' starter has not yet been announced. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.