Jun 01, 2024

Crushers Lose Another Heartbreaker, This Time in Walk-off Fashion

Joliet, IL – The Lake Erie Crushers (11-8) had a long bus ride to the Chicago area to take on the Joliet Slammers (8-11) after a brutal loss on Thursday night. They’d be upended again late in the game on Friday, dropping the first game of their newest road trip, 8-7.

The Crushers continue to leak oil in the Frontier League West standings, sitting now 2.5 games behind the Washington Wild Things.

The Crushers got started early with the bats, just like on Thursday night. DH Vincent Byrd Jr. connected for his fourth homer of the season against Slammers starter RHP Zac Westcott, getting the party started with a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st. Lake Erie would add on with an RBI single by SS Jarrod Watkins later in the inning to extend the lead to 3-0. Westcott escaped further damage, stranding the bases loaded in the inning.

Joliet would respond quickly in the bottom half against Crushers RHP Anthony Escobar. A pair of doubles by CF Chris Davis and 3B Antonio Valdez plated the first run for the Slammers. Then, the big 1B Matthew Warkentin drove in Valdez with a groundout. The score 3-2 Crushers after the 1st.

With two outs in the bottom of the 2nd, the Slammers manufactured the tying run with a LF Liam McArthur double and a Chris Davis single to knot the game at 3-3.

As with most of the season, the Crushers responded shortly after Joliet tied the game. This time it was Jarrod Watkins flexing the muscles, turning on and launching his first homer of the season, cashing in his third RBI of the game with his two-run shot. The Crushers retook the lead 5-3 heading into the bottom of the 3rd.

1B Scout Knotts would extend the lead in the 4th with an RBI single that followed a leadoff triple from 3B Logan Thomason, who continues to mash extra base hits like it’s his job (it is) – the Crushers lead to 6-3.

After a shaky start, Anthony Escobar settled in, going 5 IP, giving up just the three runs in the first two innings. Escobar wiggled out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the 5th with the score still 6-3, an effort that would put him in line for the win.

RHP Leonardo Rodriguez would relieve Escobar in the 6th, giving up two hits and a walk, getting just one out. Manager Jared Lemieux would remove Rodriguez for LHP Kenny Pierson. On a 2-2 pitch, Antonio Valdez slapped a grounder down the first base line into the corner. It rattled around in the Joliet bullpen as the bases were emptied. The original call was that the bullpen interfered with the field of play, putting Valdez at 2nd with a ground-rule double and leaving the tying run at third base.

Joliet Manager Mike Pinto would come out and emphatically lobby that the run would have scored. After a short conversation, the umpiring crew gave the tying run to home plate and placed Valdez at second base. Jared Lemieux came out and argued against the reversed call, but would get nowhere. The bases-clearing double was confirmed and the score would find its way to 6-6. Pierson would strand the runner, but the damage was done. All three runs charged to Leonardo Rodriguez, who was making his second straight relief appearance coming off the IL.

In the top of the 8th, the speed of 2B Ethan Skender was on full display. Skender stole second. Then, with two outs, Skender took off for third and just kept on running. A wild pitch from Joliet’s RHP David Harrison allowed Skender to score all the way from second, giving the Crushers a late 7-6 lead.

Flamethrower RHP Sammy Tavarez entered in the bottom of the 8th, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning to get the Crushers to the 9th.

Trevor Kuncl came in the game in the 9th to try and save it for Lake Erie. With one out RF Jonathan Sierra singled and was lifted for pinch runner, Jeissy De La Cruz. Kuncl got the next batter to strike out, but then gave up a double to 2B Victor Nova. De La Cruz came all the way around from first base to score the tying run. The next batter, C Brandon Heidal would line a single to center field. Cruz was waved around and scored the walkoff run for Joliet. Final score 8-7.

Kuncl (2-1) is tagged for the blown save and the loss. Joliet’s Cole Wesnecki (1-0) gets a win after pitching a 1-2-3 9th inning.

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Lake Erie Crushers 3 0 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 7 9 1
Joliet Slammers 2 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 2 8 13 0


The Crushers will take on Joliet tomorrow, June 1, at 7:05pm EST. Matt Valin gets the ball for Lake Erie.

Frontier League Standings: https://frontierleague.com/sports/bsb/2023-24/overall-standings

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