Crusher pitching shines in 3-2 victory in 11 innings
AVON, Ohio — The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, used terrific pitching performances from Jared Koenig, Kent Hasler, Logan Lombana and Augie Gallardo, as they took the series opener from the Gateway Grizzlies at Sprenger Healthcare Stadium on Wednesday night, with a 3-2 victory in 11 innings.
The win for the Crushers (17-15) improved their record to 3-2 in extra-inning games this season, while the loss for the Grizzlies (14-20) was their fifth in a row.
Lake Erie capitalized on a Gateway error to plate a run in the bottom of the first inning. James Davison Jr. reached on a single to start the inning and stole second a few moments later. With Davison on second and one out, Jake Vieth hit a fly ball to left field that Luke Lowery dropped, putting runners on a second and third with one out, which would prove to be costly as Davison scored on a wild pitch moments later.
The Grizzlies responded in the next half inning, as Gunner Buhner, son of former Seattle Mariners outfielder Jay Buhner, hit a solo homer to left, his first of the season.
Aaron Hill reached on a two out single for the Crushers in the bottom of the second inning and stole second base. Davison Jr. then smacked a single to center to bring Hill home, but Hill missed third base on his way to the dish and was called out on the play to end the inning.
Hill redeemed himself a few innings later. He led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a double to the gap in left-center field. Davison Jr.’s sacrifice bunt pushed Hill to third, and he scored on Steven Kraft’s sacrifice fly-out to left, giving the Crushers a 2-1 lead.
Gateway plated a run in the top of the ninth inning to force extra innings. Connor Owings was hit by Logan Lombana’s 2-2 pitch to start the inning. Buhner reached on a one out infield single, putting runners on first and second with one out. Matt Brown followed with a game-tying RBI single to center.
Lake Erie won without recording a hit in the bottom of the 11th. With the International Tiebreaker rule in play, Kraft started the inning on second base. He made his way to third after Vieth grounded out to second, forcing the Grizzlies to intentionally walk Dale Burdick and Emmanuel Marrero. Patrick Boyle (0-1) struck out Bodie Bryan, before he hit John Cable with the very next pitch on his left arm to bring in the winning run.
Augie Gallardo (3-1) was outstanding in two scoreless innings of relief, striking out four batters and allowed no hits to score the victory. Boyle took the loss after allowing the run in the 11th. Jared Koenig turned in a terrific start for the Crushers, surrendering just a run on three hits and struck out 11 batters over seven innings of work. The Crusher pitching staff held the Grizzlies to just five hits on the night and struck out 15 in the victory.
On a night where the Lake Erie offense was relatively quiet, Davison Jr. and Hill led the way for the Crushers with two hits each.
The Crushers will continue their three-game series against the Gateway Grizzlies at Sprenger Healthcare Stadium on Wednesday night. Lefty Pat Ledet (1-1, 1.62) will start for the Crushers and the Grizzlies will counter with right-hander Dominic Topoozian (3-1, 1.90). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.