Offense becoming more prominent for Lake Erie
AVON, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers swept the Windy City Thunderbolts in their weekend series, which included a Sunday doubleheader following the cancellation of Saturday’s contest.
Game one of the two-game Sunday slate started as a back-and-forth affair but eventually turned into a one-sided matchup favoring Lake Erie.
The Crushers wasted no time before scoring the game’s first run. Isaac Benard blasted his first home run of the season to right field in the top of the first inning, giving Lake Erie the early advantage.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, Jake Hirabayashi delivered an RBI single into right field; however, Steven Kraft threw out Jack Strunc at home to keep the game tied.
Lake Erie was right back on the offensive in the top of the third inning. Even with General McArthur being tagged out on a leadoff triple, the Crushers managed to push their second run of the game home. A deep sacrifice fly off the bat of Trevor Achenbach paved the ninety-foot path for Kraft to reach home safely.
Zack Gray continues to come through with timely hits for the Men of Crush. After a Steve Passatempo double, Gray poked an opposite-field hit into left field, scoring Passatempo.
The Thunderbolts answered the call in their half of the fourth inning. A Brynn Martinez sacrifice fly to center field pushed Strunc across home. The home team was not finished threatening, but it was done with lighting up the scoreboard. Taylor Sugg relieved Crushers starter Jake Pilarski and worked out of a bases-loaded jam.
Windy City was handed seven walks from Lake Erie pitching over the first four innings of play.
The Crushers exploded offensively in the top of the sixth inning. A miserable defensive performance in the inning by Windy City allowed the visiting Lake Erie squad to pad the lead with a five-run frame. A Kraft triple scored McArthur and Eric Callahan. An error scored Kraft on the following contact made by Benard. Achenbach trotted around the base path on his fourth home run of the 2021 season. The Crushers left the inning with an 8-2 lead.
The Thunderbolts tacked on one run in the bottom of the sixth inning. The 8-3 score would hold true after the scheduled seven innings as the Crushers secured the victory.
Taylor Sugg earned the win in a strong outing in relief. Kenny Mathews was docked with the loss in 5 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs (three earned) on 11 hits.
In game two, Lake Erie would pick up where it left off from the early contest. The Crushers scored two runs in three consecutive innings, starting in the second frame.
An error with runners on base secured the first run, with Brody Wofford coming around to score. A double from Gray brought Connor Oliver home safely to snag the two-run cushion.
In the top of the third inning, after stealing second base, Kraft had the pleasure of scoring following a Benard double. Benard would score two batters later on another double, this time off the lumber of Wofford.
With Passatempo on base, Gray went yard for the second time this season, pushing the advantage to 6-0 Crushers in the fourth.
Layne Schnitz-Paxton did not have his best stuff facing the Crushers, who have begun to swing the bats dangerously. The right-hander surrendered the six runs on eight hits in three-plus innings of work.
Game two starter Ryan Feierabend allowed two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, but that would be all. The southpaw spread out seven hits during his outing while fanning three Thunderbolts.
J.T. Perez took over for the final two innings in relief of Feierabend and did not allow a hit.
When it was all said and done, the Crushers claimed victory over Windy City by a score of 6-2. Lake Erie swept the Thunderbolts in the first series between the two squads this season.
The Crushers (15-14) are over .500 for the first time in 2021 and sit one game behind the Schaumburg Boomers in the Central Division. The weekend sends Windy City to 10-18 and the basement in the division. The Thunderbolts are 1-9 in their previous ten affairs.
Lake Erie returns to Mercy Health Stadium to play the Joliet Slammers in a mid-week series starting on Tuesday, June 29th. The Crushers are 2-1 against Joliet this year.
The first pitch on Tuesday is set for 7:05 pm.