Back in Business
Crushers play their first game since Sept. 6 2019
AVON, Ohio- The Lake Erie Crushers played their first game in over 600 days on Thursday night at Mercy Health Stadium and fell in their 2021 season opener to the Southern Illinois Miners, 8-5.
The Crushers (0-1) are now 2-8 in their last 10 season openers while the Miners (1-0) improved to 11-3 all-time in season openers.
The Miners fired the first shot of the night, scoring in the top of the first inning. Craig Massey started the inning with a single to center field and stole second before moving to third on Anthony Brocato’s base hit. Nolan Earley brought in the game’s first run, scoring Massey on a sacrifice fly. Former big leaguer and Midview, Ohio native Ryan Feierabend (0-1) made the start for the Crushers, and worked his way out of that first inning by inducing an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.
Lake Erie tied the game in the bottom of the second inning. Bryan De La Rosa started the inning with a double to center and advanced to third on Connor Oliver’s first of two singles on the night. Steve Passatempo then hit a fly ball to left that Brocato could not handle, allowing De La Rosa to score.
Southern Illinois would then pull away by scoring four times in the fourth inning. They sent 10 batters to the plate and scored four runs on five hits. Jarrod Watkins drove in the first run on an RBI groundout. Marshall Rich’s RBI single to center scored the next run before Brandon Pugh plated another run with a groundout and Spencer Henn capped the inning with a RBI double to left, giving the Miners a 5-1 lead.
The Crushers responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning. De La Rosa was hit by a pitch to start the inning and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Oliver drove him home a few moments later on a RBI single to center. Oliver came around to score later in the inning on Brody Wofford’s groundout, trimming the deficit to two (5-3).
Gianfranco Wawoe hit a solo homer to left in the seventh inning to give the Miners a 6-3 advantage, before Earley struck again, plating a pair of runs in the top of the eighth inning on a single to right field.
Lake Erie clawed back a bit in the bottom of the eighth, taking advantage of four free passes. Walks were issued to Javier Betancourt and Dylan Jones to start the inning. With runners on first and third and two outs, the Crushers were able to execute a double steal. De La Rosa stole second and Betancourt came home on the throw down to second base. De La Rosa scored later in the inning on a wild pitch. However, that was as close as the Crushers could get.
Feierabend took the loss for the Crushers, allowing five runs on eight hits while fanning three over 3.2 innings of work. Zac Westcott (1-0) earned the victory for the Miners, allowing three runs on six hits with four strikeouts over five innings of work. Kyle Hinton (1) scored the save after working a perfect ninth inning.
Wofford and Oliver paced the Crushers offensively with two hits each.
The Crushers and Miners will conclude their brief two-game series at Mercy Health Stadium on Friday night. Right-hander Robby Rowland will start for the Crushers and the Miners will counter with righty Kaleb Schmidt. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.