AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, won the first game of a three-game series at Sprenger Healthcare Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, winning by a score of 7-2, over the Southern Illinois Miners in their first matchup of the season.
The win for the Crushers (3-1) was their seventh in their last eight games at home dating back to last season, while the Miners (1-3) have now dropped three of their first four games to start the season.
The starting pitching set the pace for both teams in the game. Dylan Mouzakes (0-0) threw 5.1 innings giving up two earned runs off of six hits while walking one and striking out five Southern Illinois batters. While Ryan McAuliffe (0-0) threw 5.0 innings giving up one unearned run off of five hits and striking out five Lake Erie batters.
The difference maker in this game were the bullpens. Mchael Stryffler (1-0) earned the win as he came in relief for Mouzakes in the sixth inning. Stryffler threw 1.1 scoreless innings, gave up one hit, walked two, and struck out one. Augie Gullardo (0-0) then came in and pitched to one batter striking out the only person he faced. Kent Hasler (0-0) pitched a scoreless last two innings to close to books on Southern Illinois and send Crushers fans home happy. Crushers bullpen of Stryffler, Gullardo, and Hasler combined to throw four scoreless innings, gave up one hit, and struck out four. Southern Illinois bullpen of Patrick Duester, Andrew Bernstein, and Heath Renz combined to give up six runs, five of those earned, walked three and hit four Crushers batters.
It was a close contest until the bottom of the 6th inning. Entering the 6th inning, Southern Illinois was up 2-1 when the Crushers scored four unanswered runs to go up 5-2. All four of the Crushers runs that were scored in the 6th came without any hits. Dale Burdick started off the inning by being hit by a pitch. Jake Veith would follow Burdick with a walk of his own, Zach Racusin was then be hit by a pitch following Veith's at-bat. Emmanuel Marrero drew an RBI walk after a nine-pitch battle with Andrew Bernstein as the inning started to slip away from the Miners. An untimely error was committed by centerfielder Joe Duncan to plate a run and by the end of the 6th the Crushers had three batters hit by a pitch, one RBI walk, and an RBI groundout. Lake Erie almost batted around as eight Crushers batters took at-bats in the 6th inning.
After their four-run 6th inning, the Crushers then added two more in the bottom of the 7th to put the game out of reach. Those runs were provided by two two-out RBI singles courtesy of Emmanuel Marrero and Karl Ellison. In his Crushers debut, Ellison went 2-4, with two doubles and an RBI. Marrero finished the day 2-3, with two RBIs, and one walk. Patrick Duester (0-1) is credited with the loss after not recording an out in the 6th and giving up three earned runs.
Kent Hasler (0-0) retired all six batters he faced in a row during the 8th and 9th innings to seal the victory for the Crushers. Hasler ended the day throwing 2.0 innings, giving up no hits, allowing no one to reach base and recorded two strikeouts.
The Crushers will continue the three-game series with the Southern Illinois Miners at Sprenger Healthcare Stadium on Wednesday morning. Right-hander Alex Romero will take the mound for the Crushers and the Miners will counter with righty Chase Cunningham. The first pitch is scheduled for 11:05 AM.
The Lake Erie Crushers, the 2009 Frontier League Champions, and 2011 Frontier League Organization of the year, play ball at Sprenger Health Care Stadium, a 5,000 capacity stadium located in Avon, Ohio. The Frontier League is an independent baseball league with 10 teams operating throughout the Midwest. For more information on tickets, promotions and team news, visit the team website at www.LakeErieCrushers.com or call 440-934-3636.