Jun 20, 2024

Pitching Staff Rebounds Nicely, Crushers Take Finale 4-1

Avon, OH – The Lake Erie Crushers (23-13) battled on Thursday to salvage a game from the Joliet Slammers (16-20), winning the finale of the home series 4-1.

After giving up 31 hits in the first two games of the series, the Crushers looked to LHP Jack Eisenbarger to play stopper and hold the Joliet lineup at bay. He did just that with two strikeouts in the first inning, the first 1-2-3 inning since the 6th inning on Tuesday.

3B Logan Thomason began the scoring in the bottom of the 1st with his legs, beating out an infield single, stealing third base with two outs, then motoring home on a wild pitch to give the Crushers the first lead of the day.

In the bottom of the second inning, DH Vincent Byrd Jr. blasted a ball high into the stratosphere and over the right field fence for a solo homer, his first since May 31st. After two weeks on the IL, Byrd’s homer extended the lead for Lake Erie, 2-0.

From the 2nd inning on, it was a battle on the mound between Jack Eisenbarger and Joliet’s Geno Encina.

In a crucial series finale with Lake Erie’s bullpen very thin, Eisenbarger put together his third straight quality start, going six scoreless innings. He gave up just two hits and struck out eight batters – a huge, needed performance from the Crushers lefty.

The starter for the Slammers, Geno Encina, pitched through the sixth inning as well before being pulled. He was very efficient, striking out seven and allowing just the two runs on four hits.

1B Matthew Warkentin was held in check by the Crushers pitching staff on Thursday after a 9-12 start to the series. In Warkentin’s four at-bats, he came up to the plate with nobody on base all four times.

However, in the 7th, the Joliet slugger led off the inning with a single before C Brandon Heidel worked a great at-bat, doubling in Warkentin for the first Slammers tally. The knock came off LHP Kenny Pierson, who relieved Eisenbarger. Pierson would buckle down and freeze SS Jake Allgeyer for a strikeout to end the inning and leave the tying run stranded, 2-1 Lake Erie.

In the bottom of the 8th, CF Burle Dixon did his best Flo impression, giving the Crushers much needed insurance with a two run homer that just missed hitting the scoreboard. Dixon’s blast harkened back to his day game homer against the Florence Y’alls on June 9 that gave the Crushers the win. The dejavu moment extended the Lake Erie lead to 4-1.

The league leader in saves, closer RHP Trevor Kuncl, entered the game in the top of the ninth for Lake Erie. With a three run cushion, Kuncl logged his 11th save of the season en route to a Crushers victory.

Jack Eisenbarger (4-2) received his fourth straight win while Joliet’s Geno Encina (0-1) was given the loss despite pitching well.

The win for the Crushers moves them to an overall record of 23-13 on the season, keeping them within the top three of the West standings in the Frontier League. For the Slammers, they still take home the series win, but the loss moves their record to 16-20.

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


Lake Erie now turns its attention to the Gateway Grizzlies in a series that begins on Friday, June 21. The first pitch for game one is set for 7:30 P.M. EST from Grizzlies Ballpark in Sauget, Illinois. The Crushers return to Avon for a homestead beginning June 28.

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

Cant join us at the ballpark? No worries! You can stream the Lake Erie Crushers all season long at FloSports.tv.

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




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