AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, had trouble all year with situational hitting, but not tonight. Lake Erie was down to their final strike in game one when Jake Vieth smashed a two-run homer to take the lead in the top of the ninth. And in game two they were down to their final out when Aaron Hill hit a go-ahead RBI triple.
The wins for the Crushers (24-22) put them a full game ahead of Schaumburg for first place in the East. While the Freedom (34-16) are now 7-3 in their last 10 games with the losses.
It was an unconventional double header in Florence because the two teams had to finish a game that was suspended on June 16th. The two teams started the first game where they left off in the top of the seventh inning tied 7-7. Florence scored first in the bottom of the seventh inning to take an 8-7 lead. Isaac Benard hit a two out single and stole second to put himself in scoring position. During his steal, catcher Karl Ellison air mailed the throw into centerfield allowing Benard to reach third off the throwing error. With the runner on third and two outs, Luis Pintor hit a single to score Benard.
The score stayed 8-7 in Florence's favor until the top of the ninth inning. Florence's closer Jonathan Tripp was on to pitch for the save opportunity. Going into the outing, Tripp had not given up an earned run in his 18 appearances out of the bullpen. He made quick work of the first two batters of the inning getting two fly outs off three pitches. But Brody Wofford had a quality at-bat against Tripp to draw a two out walk. Then Jake Vieth stepped in and quickly went down 0-2 in his at-bat against Tripp. With the Crushers down to their final strike, Vieth smacked a two-run homer over the right centerfield fence to give Lake Erie the 9-8 lead. After the homer, Zach Racusin hit a single and then stole second to put himself in scoring position. Aaron Hill added an insurance run with an RBI double that scored Racusin and made it a two-run lead.
Evy Ruibal (1) earned his first save in a Crushers uniform as he shut the door on Florence in the bottom of the ninth. Kent Hasler (2-2) picked up the win after he threw two innings where he gave up one un-earned run on two hits, walked one, and struck out two. Jonathan Tripp (3-2) gets the loss after he gave up three earned runs in the top of the ninth off three hits.
The offense road the momentum into the second game and scored the first run in the top of the first inning. James Davison Jr. led off the game with a solo homer to give the Crushers the early lead. But Florence took the lead an inning later in the bottom of the second. Andre Mercurio and Ricky Ramirez Jr. hit back-to-back singles of Jake Repavich to start the inning. On Ramirez Jr.'s hit, Mercuio advanced to third but Ramirez Jr. was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Repavich then struck out Jackson Pritchard for the second out but gave up back-to-back walks to Taylor Bryant and Austin Wobrock to load the bases. Then Connor Crane stepped in and hit a grand slam to give Florence the 4-1 lead.
In the top of the third, Aaron hill cut down the deficit to one run when he hit a two-run homer off Reece Calvert. The score stayed 4-3 in Florence's favor until the top of the seventh inning. Karl Craigie started the inning off strong by getting John Cable to ground out on one pitch. Bryan De La Rosa got the offense going with a single off Craigie. And Brody Wofford followed up De La Rosa's single with a hit of his own to put runners at the corners with one out. Florence decided to go to the bullpen when James Davison Jr. came up. The Freedom called upon Brian McKenna to shut down the Crushers offense, but Davison Jr. had other plans. Davison Jr. hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score De La Rosa and tie the game 4-4. With Wofford on first and two outs, Aaron Hill came in clutch for Lake Erie and hit an RBI triple to give the Crushers the 5-4 lead.
Logan Lombana (3) came on to pitch and earned the save after he pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth. Starting pitcher Jake Repavich (4-2) got the win after he threw 6.0 innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, walked two, and struck out seven. Brian McKenna (1-2) is credited with the loss after he gave up two runs on two hits and walked one over his 0.2 innings pitched.
The Crushers will continue the three-game series with the Florence Freedom at UC Health Stadium on Saturday night. Right-hander Dylan Mouzakes (3-3, 2.79) will be on the mound for the Crushers. While the Freedom will go with right-hander Daniel Williams (3-0, 3.80). The first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM.
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.