Lake Erie Crushers

Monday, September 03, 2012
Crushers' Season Ends in 6-2 Loss to Miners

Marion, IL— The team that battled back all season long finally succumbed, but not before they gave the fans in Southern Illinois a run for their money.  The Lake Erie Crushers (53-42) lost (what would eventually be determined as their season finale) to the Southern Illinois Miners (55-39) 6-2 in seven innings.

The Crushers were down 6-2 entering the top of the seventh and in need of a four run rally to keep their season alive and it appeared like they might just battle back yet again, but eventually fell short.

The Crushers were the first to get on the board when in the top of the fourth inning Daniel Bowman (2-3, R, BB) led off with a single against Miners' pitcher Shawn Gilblair (W, 11-5).  Bowman then stole second base for his second steal of the game.  Andrew Davis (0-4) followed with a groundout to short, which moved Bowman up to third base.  After a Russ Moldenhauer (0-3, R) popup, Brandon Decker (2-3, RBI) came through with a two out RBI single to right field.

Everything was looking right for the Crushers as Eric Gonzalez-Diaz (L, 7-10) breezed through his first three innings and was set to take the mound in the fourth.  However, the Crushers’ lead lasted only three pitches.

On the third pitch of the bottom of the fourth inning, Jake Kaase (1-3, HR, RBI) hit a home run to right.  The tie game would last all of one pitch as Javier Herrera (1-3, HR, RBI) smacked a homer over the wall in right center field giving the Miners a 2-1 advantage.  Gonzalez-Diaz got Ken Gregory (0-2, BB) to ground out, but Jason Ganek (1-3, HR, RBI) ended his night on the next pitch, which he deposited over the wall in left.

Gonzalez-Diaz’s night was done, but the Miners were not.

Travis Risser came on to pitch for the Crushers and he quickly got Chad Maddox (0-3) to ground out.  Carlos Mendez (1-3, 2B) then came up and doubled, and after Chris Anderson worked a walk to put runners on first and second, Cannon Lester (1-2, RBI) came up and grounded a single through the hole between first and second.

Jason Taylor came up firing from right field, but Brian Erie (1-1, 2 BB) was unable to handle the one-hop throw and runners ended up on second and third.  Ben Klafczynski was then brought in to try and staunch the bleeding, but he allowed a two strike single to Alvaro Ramirez (1-3, 2 RBI), which drove in both runners and gave the Miners a 6-1 lead.

The Crushers would make things interesting though and chip away at the Miners lead in the top of the sixth.  Moldenhauer worked a two-out walk and Decker followed with his second hit of the game.  That brought up Wally Correa (1-3, 2B, RBI) who doubled down the left field line to cut the deficit to 6-2. Kyle Shaffer was next up and drove an 0-1 fastball to deep right center field, but it fell 20 feet short of the 400 foot fence and Alvaro Ramirez made the running catch to end the threat and keep the game locked at 6-2.

That was the score when the Crushers came up to bat in the top of the seventh, trying to extend their season just one more time.

Things got off on the right foot as Erie worked his second walk of the night on reliever Brandon Cunniff.  Cunniff proceeded to strike out Robby Kuzdale, but then he allowed back-to-back walks to Taylor and Bowman to load the bases.

Immediately after the walk to Bowman, Ralph Santana, hitting coach for the Miners, was ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Drew Ashcraft, but it afforded Cunniff enough time to calm down before facing Crushers' third basemen Andrew Davis.

The Crushers were in the best spot possible as Davis, the longest tenured Crusher, led the team in both home runs (14) and runs batted in (67).

However, while the Crushers were looking for home run number 15 on the season from Davis he instead popped out to short on a 1-2 fastball.  That meant the Crushers' final hope was Russ Moldenhauer, the Frontier League Home Run Derby Champion and had homered earlier in Game One of the doubleheader.

Moldenhauer fell behind in the count 1-2 and with the season on the line received an elevated fastball from Cunniff, a pitch he had hit so well all season long.  Moldenhauer swung at the fastball and drove it to deep left field, about 15 feet to the right of the 320 marker, but Chad Maddox, the Left Fielder for the Miners, made a running catch right at the front of the warning track to end the Crushers’ hopes and season.

by Jake Donnelly

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