Comeback cut short
Crushers leave tying run on in ninth, fall 5-4
AVON, Ohio – The Lake Erie Crushers left the tying run on base in the ninth inning of Saturday night’s contest at All Pro Freight Stadium, and dropped the series opener to the Washington Wild Things, 5-4.
The loss for the Crushers (35-29) marks their second in their last three games, while the victory for the Wild Things (25-37) snaps a three game losing skid.
The Crushers scored first for the first time in their last four games, but had to battle from behind after Washington plated four runs in the fourth inning to take a lead they would not surrender.
Andrew Davis began the second inning with a double, and Daniel Bowman was hit by a pitch. Kyle Weldon smacked a single to right field to load the bases with nobody out. Brian Erie then hit into a 6-4-3 double play which scored Davis, but that was the only run the Crushers pushed across in the inning.
The Wild Things plated four runs on four hits in the top of the fourth inning. Andrew Heck began the inning with the first of four straight singles. AJ Nunziato tied the game with an RBI single, and Mark Samuelson gave the Wild Things the lead with a run scoring single. Nunziato came home moments later on a wild pitch, and Shain Stoner brought Samuelson in on a sacrifice fly.
Lake Erie battled back, and narrowed the deficit to one (4-3) by plating a pair in the bottom of the fifth inning. Robby Kuzdale led off with a double, and came home on Jason Taylor’s two out double. Russ Moldenhauer followed Taylor with a run scoring single.
It was a one run contest until Nunziato struck again in the top of the eighth inning. He sent Mickey Jannis’s 3-0 pitch over the wall in right field. It was his first bomb of the season, and it gave the Wild Things a 5-3 lead.
The Crushers responded in the home half of the eighth. Moldenhauer started the inning with a walk, and came home moments later on Bowman’s one out triple into the right field corner.
Lake Erie put a threat together in the ninth inning. Kuzdale, the ninth batter in the order, started the inning with a base hit, but never got past first base, as the Washington closer, Orlando Santos (4) retired the final three batters to seal the deal.
Chris Smith (7-4) tossed six innings, and allowed a trio of runs on seven hits, while fanning five in the process to get the victory. Santos scored the save with a scoreless ninth inning. Alex Loftin (4-2) took the loss, after surrendering four runs on six hits over five innings.
Eight out of the starting nine reached safely for the Crushers, while seven hit safely in the contest. Kuzdale and Kyle Weldon paced the Crushers with two hits each. Kuzdale went 2-for-3, and reached three times, while Weldon went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
The Crushers will continue their three game series with the Washington Wild Things at All Pro Freight Stadium on Sunday evening. Left hander Paul Fagan (6-3, 3.19) will start for the Crushers, and the Wild Things will counter with right hander Casey Barnes (2-5, 4.64). The first pitch is scheduled for 5:05 PM.
by Andy Barch
All Pro Freight Stadium
2009 Baseball Boulevard
Avon, Ohio 44011