Crushers sweep resilient Rippers
Crushers hold off Rippers to complete three game sweep
AVON, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers used a pair of big innings on Thursday evening to sweep the London Rippers, and brought their home winning streak to six in the process with a 6-5 victory.
With the victory, the Crushers (24-21) have now won eight out of their last nine games, and have won 10 out of their last 12 home games, while the Rippers (17-28) fell to 1-5 against the Crushers this season.
The Crushers took an early 4-0 lead in the first inning, but saw that lead slip away before scoring twice with two outs in the fifth inning to take the lead for good.
Robby Kuzdale started the four run rally in the first inning with a triple to the gap in right center field. Jason Taylor followed with a walk, before Russ Moldenhauer snapped a scoreless tie with an RBI single to center. Andrew Davis followed with a three run blast to left field, his third of the season to cap the big inning.
The Rippers responded with a three run second inning. Stephen Cardullo began the inning with a base hit, and made his way to third on David Christensen’s double. Zach Larson brought Cardullo in on an RBI groundout before Christensen came home on Aaron Glaum’s infield single. Matt Wright drove in the final run of the inning on a two out double.
The Rippers tied the game in the top of the fourth inning. Justino Cuevas stroked a leadoff single, and stole second base. Rich Witten’s throw to second in an attempt to throw out Cuevas, ended up in center field, and the errant throw allowed Cuevas to advance to third. Cuevas scored the tying run moments later on Glaum’s groundout.
The Crushers plated two runs with two outs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead for good. Davis stepped in with the bases empty and two down, when he smashed a double to the gap in left center. Davis scored the go ahead run moments later on Daniel Bowman’s base hit to center field. Free passes were then issued to Witten and Brandon Decker to load the bases, before J.C. Figueroa reached on an infield single to score Bowman.
Chrsitensen started the top of the sixth inning with solo homer to left, his second of the series and his ninth of the season to bring the Rippers within a run, but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
Eric Gonzalez-Diaz (4-4) earned his third consecutive victory, and his first at home this season, going five innings, and allowed five runs, four earned on eight hits. Jonathan Kountis (9) secured the save, registering the final four outs of the contest, and allowed just a base hit along the way. The combination of Kountis, Randy Sturgill, and Mickey Jannis provided four scoreless innings of relief. Eric Katzman (1-4) allowed six runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings of work and was tagged with the loss.
Kuzdale and Davis paced the Crushers offensively, as they both turned in 2-for-4 performances. Davis drove in three runs and scored twice, and has knocked in nine runs over six games against the Rippers this season. Taylor walked twice, and has now reached safely in 29 consecutive games, and Figueroa’s single in the fifth extended his on base streak to 13 games. Moldenhauer’s RBI single in the first capped a huge series. He went 4-for-10 in the three game set, and drove in eight runs, and has at least one RBI in seven out of his last eight games.
The Crushers will begin a three game series against the Southern Illinois Miners at All Pro Freight Stadium on Friday night. Right hander Alex Loftin (2-0, 3.15) will start for the Crushers and the Miners will counter with left hander Brian Fowler (3-3, 3.07). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.
by Andy Barch
All Pro Freight Stadium
2009 Baseball Boulevard
Avon, Ohio 44011