Still in the Hunt
Crushers stay alive in playoff race with 4-3 win over Joliet
AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy, kept their playoff hopes alive after scoring a 4-3 victory over the Joliet Slammers at All Pro Freight Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Crushers (45-46) have now won six out of their last seven games, and are only three games out of the final wild card spot with five games left in the season. The victory also improved their record to 16-10 in August, while the loss for the Slammers (49-42) was their fourth in a row against the Crushers dating back to July.
After the two teams exchanged a pair of scoreless innings, the Crushers broke through with a pair of runs in the third. One out walks were issued to Bryan De La Rosa and Parker Norris, before Rob Paller smashed a RBI single through the right side to score De La Rosa. Norris advanced to third on the play, and came around to score on Brendan Costantino's RBI groundout.
Joliet was able to answer in the top of the fourth inning. After Juan Caballero (4-1) recorded a pair of quick outs, Mike Garza stroked a double to center. The next batter, Zarley Zalewski hit a ground ball to second base, which went under Max Casper's glove, and the error allowed Garza to score.
The Crushers added another run in the bottom of the seventh. Connor Oliver walked with two outs, before stealing second base. Jose Barraza followed with a RBI single through the left side to bring Oliver home, giving the Crushers a 3-1 lead.
The Slammers responded with a pair of runs to tie the game in the top of the eighth. The inning began on a single from Casey Fletcher, and he made his way to third on a double from Phil Bates. Joliet was able to tie the game on back-to-back sac fly RBIs from Alfredo Rodriguez and Marc Flores.
Lake Erie was able to respond with a go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Richard Seigel began the inning with a double to right-center. Casper then laid a sacrifice bunt down to move him over to third, and he scored the eventual game winner on De La Rosa's sacrifice fly moments later.
Joliet had one final chance to score in the top of the ninth. Zalewski kept the game alive on a two-out double down the left field line, but Chandler Jagodzinski (14) struck out Melvin Rodriguez moments later to cap the victory.
Caballero was fantastic for the Crushers, scoring the victory after allowing just three runs, only two earned on four hits while fanning three over eight innings. The victory was his fourth in a row, improving his record to 4-0 in August. Jagodzinski worked a scoreless ninth to snag the save. Brent Choban (4-8) took the loss, after allowing two runs on three hits over two innings of relief.
Paller led the way for Lake Erie with a 3-for-4 performance in the night with a trio of singles. De La Rosa walked twice, extending his on base streak to 14 games, while Eric Grabe singled in the seventh inning to extend his hitting streak to eight games.
The Crushers will continue their three game series with the Joliet Slammers at All Pro Freight Stadium on Wednesday night. Lefty Connor Reed (4-1, 3.73) will start for the Crushers. Joliet's starter has not been announced. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.