May 16, 2024

Brayden Bonner Shows Incredible Grit as Crushers Sweep Joliet at Home

Avon, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers (5-1) completed the series sweep over the Joliet Slammers (2-4) winning by a final score of 4-2 thanks to more late inning heroics. The Crushers maintain a top spot in the Frontier League West Division, sitting in second place as of May 16th.

Wednesday’s ballgame was a nail-biter, and Thursday’s proved to be an identical storyline.

Through the third inning both teams would be knotted up at zeroes, with both starters, Crushers LHP Jack Eisenbarger and Joliet’s RHP Ricky Castro, going stride for stride with scoreless innings.

However, in the bottom of the third, 2B Ethan Skender shined as he knocked a hard line drive into deep left field, cutting through the wind for his first home run of the season. The Crushers would draw first blood in the pitching duel, leading 1-0

The Slammers would respond quickly in the top of the 4th as SS Jeissy De La Cruz sent Valdez scrambling home on a liner to right field for Joliet’s first run, tying the game at one. However, a great throw by RF Jack Harris cut down De La Cruz trying to stretch his hit into a double, ending the inning and putting away the possibility of more runs being scored in the 4th.

In the top of the eighth, the Crushers brought in RHP Brayden Bonner, who gave up back-to-back singles to 1B Matthew Warkentin and RF Jonathan Sierra. Then, Bonner tossed a throw wide to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt by DH Giovanni Garbella, loading the bases with nobody out – a dire situation in a tie ballgame in the 8th.

However, with their backs up against the wall, Bonner and the Crushers didn’t seem to flinch.

The next batter, 3B Antonio Valdez, sliced a ball into short left field with LF Ronald Washington Jr. making a miraculous diving play to get the first out, hopping up quickly after making the catch to ensure no runner advanced.

Bonner would go on to strike out pinch-hitter Broc Mortensen, then getting De La Cruz lining out just four pitches later to end the inning – Bonner and the Crushers, standing firm when things looked bleak.

Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, Slammers LHP Cal Djuraskovic hit the mound for Joliet. He would throw just 17 pitches, issusing a leadoff walk to CF Sean Cheely. A bad idea for Joliet as Cheely would steal second and advance to third on a nice piece of hitting by Skender, grounding to the right side of the infield.

Then, the 8th inning centerpiece of Tuesday’s game, DH Scout Knotts, poked a sinking fly ball down the right field line for the go-ahead RBI single, putting the Crushers up 2-1. The Crushers would plate two more runs in the 8th.

The Crushers entered the top of the ninth inning on top, 4-1, with closer RHP Trevor Kuncl in to cap finish the job. After striking out the first two batters, Kuncl would give one back to 2B Victor Nova, who launched a solo homer way over the fence in right.

Joliet’s luck would run out, as Warkentin flew out to Washington to end the game, the Crushers winning 4-2.

Brayden Bonner’s (1-0) gritty effort afforded him the Win with Joliet’s Cal Djuraskovic (0-1) suffering the Loss. Trevor Kuncl logs his first Save (1) of the season.

With the win, the team moves to 5-1 on the season on five straight wins while the Slammers drop four straight and fall to 2-4. The two sides will meet again down the road on May 31, as the Crushers will head to Joliet.

Until then, the next look for the Crushers comes on Friday, May 17, as they take on the Quebec Capitales at 7:05 p.m. EST at Crushers Stadium on “Grape Patty’s Day”.

Box Score:

Score by Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Joliet Slammers 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 9 0
Lake Erie Crushers 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 X 4 5 2


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