CRESTWOOD, IL—If the Lake Erie Crushers (52-41) lost tonight, their season would be over. Now, after defeating the Windy City ThunderBolts (52-41) 4-2 in ten innings, they at least have one more day as a playoff contender in the Frontier League.
Although the Crushers and ThunderBolts have identical records, the Crushers do not own the tiebreaker. Nor do they own the tiebreaker against any of the teams left in playoff contention, so if the Crushers lost tonight, they would have been knocked out of the playoffs.
The Crushers could not win tonight without a clutch performance from Daniel Bowman (2-5, HR, 2 RBI). Brian Erie (1-3, R) led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single and was then sacrificed over by J.C. Figueroa (2-4). Jason Taylor (0-5)) then come up with Erie on second and flew out to center. With two out, Bowman swung at the first pitch from Frontier League Pitcher of the Year Mike Recchia (ND) and knocked a single into right-center to give the Crushers the 1-0 lead.
Reliever of the Year Jonathan Kountis (W, 6-2) then came on in the eighth inning and retired the ThunderBolts in order.
The Crushers were able to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth when Russ Moldenhauer (4-5, 2 2B) led-off with a double and the Crushers appeared to squander the opportunity as reliever Shane Zegaric struck out both Kyle Shaffer (0-2) and Wally Correa leaving Moldenhauer at second with two out. However, Robby Kuzdale (1-2, RBI) roped a double into the left-field corner to put the Crushers up 2-0.
The ball was exactly where the Crushers wanted it in the bottom of the ninth inning; in the hands of Jonathan Kountis.
But the reliever of the year allowed a lead-off single to Brandon Decker (1-2, R) and then a double to right by Ryan Cuneo (1-4) to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Zach Aakhus (0-4, RBI) then forced home a run to make it 2-1. Kountis then struck out Jarek West (0-4), but Bob Glover (1-3, RBI), on the seventh pitch of his at-bat, tied the game up with a single through the hole on the left side.
It appeared as if the momentum was squarely on the side of the ThunderBolts and the Crushers postseason chances were looking slim, but Daniel Bowman had other plans. For the second time in as many at-bats, Bowman came through for the Crushers and demolished a baseball to dead center field and when it dropped over the batters eye in center (a ball that traveled roughly 420 feet) the Crushers had a 3-2 lead. Andrew Davis added an insurance run when he rudely greeted Michael Click by launching his 14th home run on the season over the scoreboard in right.
Ben Klafczynski (S, 1) came on in the bottom of the tenth and picked up his first save of the season, continuing his spectacular run in the bullpen (his ERA dropped to 2.29).
The Crushers got a spectacular performance from Matt Smith (ND) who went seven innings, striking out seven, only walking one and allowing five hits. Smith outdueled the Pitcher of the Year Mike Recchia who went 7.2 IP, allowing six hits, one run while striking out five and walking three.
The Crushers travel to Southern Illinois to take on the Miners in a series where they must sweep to even have a chance at the playoffs. Pat Arnold will face off against Cody Hall tomorrow night at Rent One Ballpark. Game time is set for 7:05 Central (8:05 Eastern) and can be heard on www.lakeeriecrushers.com.
by Jake Donnelly
2011 Press Releases
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