The Crushers commit three errors, allow four runs in the ninth inning and fall to Washington
Avon, OH. -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy, fell to the Washington Wild Things, 9-3, after sloppy play defensively for Lake Erie and the pitching staff allowed nine unanswered runs after the second inning on Saturday night at All Pro Freight Stadium.
With the loss, the Crushers (47-48) fall to 3-8 in the season series with Washington. They are one game behind the River City Rascals for the final playoff spot in the Frontier League with one game left on the schedule. The Wild Things (46-48) get their first victory since August 30 and have won three of their last nine games.
For the second night in a row, the Crushers grabbed the first lead and it came off the bat of Eric Grabe. With one out, Brendan Costantino was in by a pitch that came up and bounced off of his helmet. He would stay in the game. Connor Oliver singled, moving Costantino to second base. With two outs, Grabe hit a two-run double to left field.
In the second inning, Bryan De La Rosa hit a ground-rule double down the line in right field. Max Casper bunted him to third base, and Costantino hit a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing De La Rosa to tag up and come home. The Crushers led 3-0.
Washington would not wait long to get on the board against Crushers' starting pitcher, Josh Heddinger (4-6). In the top of the third inning, Ryne Willard doubled to left field. He tagged up and went to third base on a fly ball to right field and scored on a wild pitch. Chris Grayson walked and attempted to steal second. He slid in with a steal but a bad throw by De La Rosa to second base, allowed Grayson to reach third base. David Popkins hit a single later in the inning, scoring Grayson.
The Wild Things scored two more in the top of the sixth inning to take their first lead in the series. Popkins walked and Jimmy Yezzo doubled to move Popkins to third. Grant Fink hit a sacrifice fly to center field, which scored the tying run and allowed Yezzo to get to third base. With two outs, and a runner on third, John Fidanza hit a slow rolling grounder to Costantino. The Crushers' third baseman threw the ball to first but it was wide and took Jose Barraza off the bag. Barraza tried to tag Fidanza but the ball came out of his glove and everyone was safe on the error.
In the top of the eighth inning, with the Wild Things up, 4-3, Justin Garcia hit a one-out double. Fidanza and Willard walked to load the bases. Andrew Heck hit a sacrifice fly to put an insurance run on the board for Washington.
The Wild Things blew it open in the ninth inning. Chandler Jagodzinski entered the game for Lake Erie but struggled. Ricky Rodriguez doubled and, with one out and a runner on third, Yezzo roped an RBI single to right field. Fink and Garcia then hit back-to-back doubles and Fidanza reached on an error by Grabe. Four runs scored on five hits before the Crushers could get the second out in the top of the inning.
The Wild Things' could have gotten a few more runs in the seventh inning but Justin Sinibaldi worked out of a jam. Trevor Longfellow walked two hitters without getting an out in the seventh inning. Sinibaldi came on and walked one to load the bases but then struck Popkins out and got Yezzo to ground into a double play.
The Crushers had an opportunity to re-take the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Bases were loaded with one out and the Wild Things made a pitching change. However, Casper grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Heddinger went six innings for the Crushers, allowing four runs, two earned, on six hits. He was the losing pitcher in the contest. Along with Longfellow and Sinibaldi out of the bullpen, Jordan McCoy worked an inning, allowing a run on a hit and two walks. Jagodzinski allowed all four runs in the ninth, on five hits. Jeff Dally got the final out in the ninth inning.
On the other side, Luke Wilkins (4-7) was the winning pitcher after throwing 5.1 innings, allowing only three runs on six hits. Kolin Stanley went 2.1 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Devon Davis recorded an out and Andrew Woeck struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.
For the Men of Crush, Grabe doubled twice, extending his on base streak to 14 straight games. During this streak, he also has had six multi-hit games. Sean Hurley doubled tonight, pushing his hit streak to four games.
The Crushers will finish out the series and the 2016 regular season against the Washington Wild Things on Sunday. For the Crushers, right-hander Juan Caballero (4-1, 3.63) will take the hill. The Wild Things will go with righty Chase Cunningham (7-9, 4.06). First pitch is scheduled for 5:05.