Both teams use the long ball late, Grizzlies get last laugh
SAUGET, Ill. – The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy, fell to the Gateway Grizzlies, 3-2, as the Crushers late inning comeback falls short behind great pitching performances by both starters.
The Crushers (24-26) lose for the first time since July 6. The loss snaps a five-game winning streak. The win for the Grizzlies (26-28) ends their seven game losing streak that they carried into the All-Star break.
Lake Erie's offense struggled to get started, following the four day hiatus. However, Gateway jumped on the board early. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Seth Heck doubled to left field. He reached third base as Craig Massoni hit a high-chopper to Brendan Costantino at third. Heck would come home to score on a passed ball as a pitch tipped off of catcher, Bryan De La Rosa's glove into foul territory.
In the third inning, the Grizzlies would go ahead by two runs thanks to Heck, again. Heck doubled to left field with one out. Brandon Thomas hit an RBI single, allowing the Grizzlies second baseman to score.
The Crushers would get the offense going later in the game. In the sixth inning, De La Rosa singled to right field. Max Casper laid down a bunt base hit that was placed perfectly down the first base line. Connor Oliver then put down a bunt that rolled up the third base line for a base hit, as well. With bases loaded and no outs, Costantino grounded into a double play to the shortstop, Logan Davis. De La Rosa would score but that would be all the Crushers could get as they ended up stranding bases loaded later in the inning.
Down by one run, Sean Hurley tied the game with one swing of the bat. His second home run of the season cleared the fence in center field to start the seventh inning.
Massoni and the Grizzlies made sure the game was not tied at two for long. In the bottom of the seventh, Massoni hit a two-out solo homer to right field, his eighth of the season.
Both teams had big opportunities offensively but could not come through. In the fourth inning, the Grizzlies had bases loaded and one out, but Stetson Nelson (2-4), the Crushers' starting pitcher, worked out of the inning. The Crushers had bases loaded twice in the sixth inning but only one run crossed the plate.
Nelson went 6.2 in his second start for the Crushers but picks up the loss. He gave up three runs but only two of them were earned. Brad Duffy went 1.1 innings, striking out one hitter.
Corey Kimes pitched 6.1 innings for the Grizzlies. He allowed two runs on five hits and struck out six Crushers but did not factor into the decision. JaVaun West (1-3) pitched 1.2 innings and struck out four while picking up the win. Kevin Jefferis (5) was awarded the save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
Oliver, Costantino and Jose Barraza combined for four of the Crushers seven hits in this game.
The Crushers and Grizzlies will square off again on Saturday at GCS Ballpark. The Crushers starting pitcher will be righty Mike Devine (6-2, 2.50) and the Grizzlies will counter with right-hander Adam Eggnatz (3-1, 3.03). The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM.