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Crushers fall to Cornbelters in back-and-forth battle

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AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy, received three hits and four RBIs from their nine-hole hitter, Parker Norris, but still fell to the Normal Cornbelters, 5-4, at All Pro Freight Stadium on Saturday night.


For the Crushers (27-30) the loss was their second in a row, and their third in their last four games, while the victory for the Cornbelters (28-31) was their fourth in their last five games.


Norris was responsible for three of Lake Erie's nine hits on the night, and he drove in all four of their runs.


The Crushers scored first, plating a pair of runs in the bottom of the second inning. Richard Seigel reached on a fielder's choice, before Sean Hurley walked, and Bryan De La Rosa reached on a two-out single to load the bases for Norris, who belted a two-run single back up the middle to give the Crushers an early lead.


Normal battled back, scoring their first run in the top of the third, before taking the lead with a pair of runs in the fourth. In the third, they had runners at first and second with two outs when Aaron Dudley belted a RBI double down the left field line. However, Santiago Chirino was thrown out at third base by Hurley in left on the play to end the inning.


Despite the base running blunder the 'Belters were able to recover an inning later. Nolan Meadows reached on a one out walk, which was followed by a single from Dylan Kelly. Craig Lepre followed Kelly with a two-run double to the gap in left center to give the Cornbelters a 3-2 lead.


The Cornbelters used a trio of singles to plate another run in the top of the fifth inning. Chirino, Dillon Haupt and Kelly all recorded singles in the inning, and it was Kelly's two-out RBI single to right which scored Chirino to give Normal a 4-2 lead.


Norris struck again for the Crushers in the bottom of the seventh. Justin Byrd started the inning with a double to right, and he made his way to third on De La Rosa's sacrifice bunt. Norris then reached on an infield single to score Byrd.


Normal added a huge insurance run in the top of the ninth. Justin Fletcher reached on a base hit to start the inning, and eventually came around to score on Ty Morris's pinch hit RBI single.


Lake Erie did not go down quietly, as they forced Normal closer Race Parmenter (6) to throw 32 pitches in the bottom of the ninth inning. Byrd began the ninth with a walk, and advanced to second on De La Rosa's groundout. Norris responded with his third hit, which produced his fourth RBI of the game, as he endured a 10-pitch at bat with a RBI single to right, before Parmenter struck out the next two batters to seal the deal.


Norris had a huge game for the Crushers, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Eric Grabe turned in a multi-hit game as well, going 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.


Chris Carmain (3-6) scored the win for Normal, allowing a trio of runs on seven hits while fanning seven over seven innings, and Parmenter allowed a run on a hit to score the save in the ninth. Mike Devine (7-3) lost for the first time since June 30, allowing four runs on eight hits over six innings of work.


The Crushers will finish their three-game series with the Normal Cornbelters at All Pro Freight Stadium on Sunday evening. Right-hander Juan Caballero (0-0, 3.90) will start for the Crushers and the Cornbelters will go with right-hander Horatio Acosta (5-2, 3.29). The first pitch is scheduled for 5:05 PM.