AVON, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers played one of the most exciting games of the season versus the Southern Illinois Miners Friday night. A back-and-forth affair eventually led to the Crushers partaking in their second home run derby on consecutive nights.
The scoring action began in the bottom of the first inning. Nolan Earley blasted a double, scoring Luke Mangieri to give the Miners the early 1-0 advantage.
Lake Erie struck back in the top of the second inning, however. Third baseman Steve Passatempo was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Trevor Achenbach was the man to trot home to even the score at 1-1.
In the top of the fourth, back-to-back errors committed by the Southern Illinois middle infielders allowed two more runs to be added by the Crushers.
Southern Illinois starter Gunnar Kines exited the game after four innings of work. He allowed three runs on three hits along with four strikeouts.
The Crushers would continue to build on their 3-1 lead. Passatempo came around to score on a Steven Kraft single in the sixth inning.
Starting Lake Erie pitcher, Sean Johnson had a favorable night on the rubber. He tallied eight strikeouts, five hits, and a measly one run against him through six innings.
After the seventh-inning stretch, the bats came to life for the home Miners. Anthony Brocato delivered a single to score Jarrod Watkins. Ian Walters helped the cause for Southern Illinois with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Down 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Miners tied the ballgame on a Yeltsin Gudino double that brought Marshall Rich home.
The game required extra innings as neither team could push a runner across in the ninth inning.
Brody Wofford contributed for the Crushers in the tenth inning with a single, scoring starting left fielder Connor Oliver. Lake Erie was not finished in the run department. Wofford eventually scored on a sacrifice fly credited to Shawon Dunston Jr. The visiting Crushers took a 6-4 lead into the bottom half of the tenth inning.
The lead would not stick for the Crushers. A lengthy half-inning witnessed the Miners load the bases. Mangieri drew a walk to bring Nick Neville home to score to cut the lead to one. Earley added a single into right field to score the tying run.
Without a winner through ten innings, a home run derby was to settle this gem of a game. The three men to participate for Lake Erie were Oliver, Karl Ellison, and Achenbach. Only Ellison would be able to get a ball over the fence, and he had two to keep the Crushers alive.
Earley went first for the Miners, hitting one home run. Down 2-1 after Ellison’s trip to the plate, Mangieri would punish three balls over the wall in right field. Southern Illinois won the derby by a score of 4-2.
The Crushers had multiple opportunities to shut the door against the Miners but were never able to. The bullpen for the Crushers failed to accommodate the impressive performance of Johnson. Overall, the Crushers pitching staff allowed ten walks in total on the night.
Southern Illinois improved to 3-5 after its dramatic win Friday night, while Lake Erie dropped its sixth straight game to fall to 1-7.
Game two of the series will get underway Saturday at 7:05 pm ET.