Two out hits pace Crushers in 8-2 win to sweep Gateway
AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers completed a three-game sweep of the Gateway Grizzlies at All Pro Freight Stadium on Thursday evening, using a number of clutch two-out hits to come away with a convincing, 8-2 victory.
The Crushers (11-5) remain unbeaten in eight games at home this season after the victory, while the loss for the Grizzlies (9-10) was their fifth in a row overall, and their sixth straight loss to the Crushers in Avon.
Lake Erie scored six of their eight runs with two outs on the evening, while they also received six strong innings from starting pitcher Todd Kibby (2-1) who scored the victory.
For the second night in a row, the Crushers scored first on a two-out hit from Juan Avila in the bottom of the first inning. Brendan Costantino began the inning with a base hit, and made his way to second on an errant throw. Two batters later, Costantino made his way to third on a single from Jose Barraza, and he scored on Avila's single to third.
Gateway was able to answer in the top of the second, with a two-out rally. After Kibby struck out the first two batters of the inning, Brandon Thomas started a string of three straight singles, and he scored on a two-out infield single from Vin Guglietti.
Lake Erie answered with another dose of two-out thunder in the bottom of the second to regain the lead. After Sasha Kuebel (1-3) struck out the first two batters of the inning, Max Casper singled to right, made his way to second on a base hit from Costantino, and scored on Carlos Avila's two-out RBI single to center.
The Grizzlies were able to come right back and tie the game at 2-2 in the top of the third. Craig Massoni walked with two outs, before making his way to third after Ben Waldrip reached on a single, and an errant throw from Casper at short. Blake Brown then delivered a two-out run scoring single to left to tie the game.
Lake Erie then posted back-to-back two-run frames, with a pair in the fourth and two more in the fifth to take the lead. Bryan De La Rosa and Parker Norris stroked back-to-back singles to start the fourth inning, before Costantino brought De La Rosa home on a single to center, and Norris came home on Carlos Avila's sacrifice fly.
The bottom of the Lake Erie batting order went to work with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. William Beckwith smashed out two-out double to center, and De La Rosa followed with a walk, before Norris and Casper ripped back-to-back two-out RBI singles.
Two more came across for the Crushers in the seventh. Beckwith began the inning with a single, De La Rosa was then plunked by a pitch before Norris walked to load the bases. Casper drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly, before De La Rosa stole third, and scored on an errant throw from the catcher Tyler Nordgren.
Kibby scored the victory after allowing only a pair of runs, just one earned on five hits over six strong innings and struck out nine batters along the way. Kuebel took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned on nine hits over 4.2 innings of action.
Five Crushers hit safely multiple times on the night, and Jose Barraza led the way with a three hit performance, going 3-for-5. Costantino, Beckwith, Norris and Casper all hit safely twice as well. Juan Avila's single in the first inning extended his hitting streak to eight games, while the bottom of the order, De La Rosa, Norris and Casper combined to reach base eight times on the night.
The Crushers will hit the road and begin a three-game series with the Southern Illinois Miners on Friday night at Rent One Park in Marion, Ill. Right-hander Steve Hagen (1-0, 1.69) will start for the Crushers and the Miners will go with right-hander Jarett Miller (0-1, 2.33). The first pitch is scheduled for 8:05 PM.