AVON, Ohio — The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, offense fell flat in the first game of the Divisional Round as they only had two hits through the first six innings against starter Scott Sebald and dropped game one by a final score of 4-2.
The Crushers (0-1) not only had trouble against starter Sebald but they also only had one hit against Florence’s bullpen. While the Freedom (1-0) win their first playoff game since 2017 with the win.
Jared Koenig (7-3) got the loss tonight as he gave up three runs on five hits, walked two and struck out two over 6.0 innings. Scott Sebald (8-1) earned the win for his outstanding efforts tonight. Sebald gave up one run on five hits, walked one and struck out eight over his 7.0 innings of work. Karl Craigie (11) picked up the save as he closed the door on the Crushers in the ninth.
The Florence offense started the scoring in the bottom of the second and never looked back. Andre Mercurio led off the inning with a walk and then stole second. Koenig got the next batter out with a ground out, but the groundout helped advance Mercurio 90-feet closer to scoring. Then the Crushers committed a costly error to allow the first run to score. Ryan Rinsky hit a ball to third baseman Dale Burdick and Mercurio took off for home. Catcher Bryan De La Rosa could not handle Burdick’s throw as the ball kicked off his glove allowing Mercurio to slide in safe to make it a 1-0 lead.
The Freedom added another run to their lead in the next inning. Koenig gave up a solo homer to Connor Crane to start the inning but made quick work of the next two batters to get two outs. Koenig had trouble getting the third out and gave up a two out double to Caleb Lopes. On the second pitch of his at-bat, Mercurio hit an RBI double to score Lopes and make it a 3-0 lead.
Lake Erie’s offense finally woke up in the seventh inning. Heading into the inning, the Crushers had only two hits and a handful of base runners. Florence’s starter Sebald gave up a single to Zach Racsuin to start the inning but used three pitches to strike out Jake Vieth for the first out. Then De La Rosa came up and advanced Racusin into scoring position with a ground out. With Racusin standing on second and two down, Dre Hubbard smashed a ball into the alley between right and center field. Racusin scored easily but Hubbard tried to stretch the double into a triple and got thrown out at third to end the inning.
The Freedom added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single off the bat of Isaac Benard.
In the top of the ninth inning, the Crushers made a strong effort to comeback but fell short. With the bases loaded and one out, De La Rosa hit a ball deep into the right field corner that looked like it was going to get down for an extra base hit, but an amazing diving play by Ricky Ramirez Jr. near the warning track turned De La Rosa’s hit into an RBI sac fly. The next batter, Dre Hubbard flew out to center to end the game.
The Crushers will play game two of the divisional round with the Florence Freedom on Wednesday at UC Health Stadium in Florence, Kentucky. Lake Erie will start Pat Ledet (6-4, 2.33) on the mound. While the Freedom will counter with Mike Castellani (9-2, 2.65). First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 PM.
The Lake Erie Crushers, the 2009 Frontier League Champions, and 2011 Frontier League Organization of the year, play ball at Sprenger Health Care Stadium, a 5,000 capacity stadium located in Avon, Ohio. The Frontier League is an independent baseball league with 10 teams operating throughout the Midwest. For more information on tickets, promotions and team news, visit the team website at www.LakeErieCrushers.com or call 440-934-3636.