Jun 26, 2024


Crestwood, IL – The Lake Erie Crushers (25-15) emerged victorious in a grinding effort against the Windy City Thunderbolts (16-25), winning by a score of 11-6.

Before Tuesday’s game, Jared Lemieux announced that INF Walner Espinal had been reinstated from the IL. The corresponding move is 1B Scout Knotts being moved to the 7-day IL.

Windy City caught lightning in a bottle early with a 1st inning solo homer by SS Henry Kusiak, giving the Thunderbolts an early 1-0 lead.

Crushers starter, LHP Matt Valin, started off hot aside from the homer. Valin struck out the side in the 1st and 2nd inning, giving him six outs on six strikeouts to start his outing.

In the top of the 3rd, the Crushers got two men on with two outs for 1B Alfredo Gonzalez. Pasta got a hold of a hanging curveball from RHP Will Armbruester and deposited it over the left field fence for a three-run homer. Then, the next batter, DH Vincent Byrd Jr., walloped a fastball over the wall in right for the back-to-back homer. Byrd’s frozen rope came off the bat at 112mph, giving the Crushers a 4-1 lead.

Matt Valin thought he had his seventh strikeout against the leadoff batter in the bottom of the 3rd, but got pinched by the strike zone. He’d end up walking 2B Armando Albert in his professional debut at-bat. Albert would score on a CF Cam Phelts triple tucked down the third base line, cutting the lead to 4-2.

Then, Valin threw a fastball to the backstop, beckoning Phelts to break for the plate. However, it was a quick pounce and tag by C John Tuccillo to record the out and erase the man at third.

Windy City would not be done in the 3rd, though. Valin began to lose control of the zone, walking three straight batters. DH Christian Kuzemka took advantage of the bases being loaded, lining a two-run single to left field to tie the game, 4-4. A bases loaded free pass would give the Thunderbolts a 5-4 lead later in the inning. Six walks in the bottom of the 3rd would chase Valin from the game after just 2.2 IP.

RHP Leonardo Rodriguez would come into the game and issue a four pitch walk to Armando Albert, his second drawn walk of the inning. The RBI free pass made the score 6-4 Thunderbolts before Rodriguez induced a groundout to escape the grueling bottom of the 3rd.

John Tuccillo got one back in the top of the 4th with a lacing RBI single to push the score back within one, 6-5 Windy City.

Previously in the inning, LF Jose Torrealba was helped off the field after suffering an apparent injury after grounding out. He was replaced by Ronald Washington in the field to start the bottom of the 4th.

The Crushers got a gift in the top of the 5th. Thunderbolts SS Henry Kuziak committed a throwing error on what looked to be the inning ending groundout to allow Alfredo Gonzalez to score and knot the game 6-6. Matt Valin would be taken off the hook with Lake Erie tying the game.

Lake Erie continued to put tallies on the board, taking the lead in the top of the 6th on a John Tuccillo sacrifice fly. The 7-6 Lake Erie lead was thanks to runs being scored in every inning from the 3rd to the 6th.

In the top of the 9th, the Crushers broke the game wide open, scoring four times on consecutive RBI singles by Jack Harris, Jarrod Watkins, Ronald Washington, and John Tuccillo. Tuccillo’s knock would make him a season best 3-4 on the day with 3 RBI – an excellent showing from the second year Crusher paired with an impressive day defensively behind the plate.

The 11-6 score would hold largely thanks to the Lake Erie bullpen. Leonardo Rodriguez, Cal Carver, Christian Scafidi, Sammy Tavarez, and Trevor Kuncl combined for 6.1 IP, giving up just 2 H, 2 BB, and 0 ER while striking out 12 batters. It was an exceptional performance from the bullpen to slam the door after Valin’s shaky 3rd inning.

Leonardo Rodriguez (1-0) would get the win in relief. Will Armbruester (1-4) would be given the loss, giving up seven runs in 5.1 IP.

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Lake Erie Crushers 0 0 4 1 1 1 0 0 4 11 16 0
Windy City ThunderBolts 1 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 6 1


The Crushers remain tied for 2nd in the Frontier League West, trailing the Washington Wild Things by 1.5 games.

Lake Erie will turn around for a morning matchup against the Thunderbolts on Wednesday, June 26 at 11:35am EST. As always, you can catch the action on FLOSports.tv.

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

Be sure to follow the Crushers on Instagram/Facebook/X @LECrushers!




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