AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, had a strong ninth inning comeback but lost to the Florence Freedom in the Sunday matinee.
The loss for the Crushers (25-23) was their fifth in their last ten. While the win for the Freedom (35-17) marks their seventh in their last ten.
Pat Ledet (2-4) started for the Crushers and got the loss after he gave up five earned runs on eight hits, walked three, and struck out five over his 4.0 innings of work. Tyler Gibson (7-1) earned the win as he only gave up three earned runs on seven hits over his 6.2 innings pitched. Jonathan Tripp (11) secured the win for Florence as he came in the ninth and shut down Lake Erie's offense.
It was a very uncharacteristic start for Ledet. Florence started the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. Tyler Reichenborn led off the inning with a solo home run and is now one of five people in the Frontier League to homer off Ledet. Following Reichenborn's home run, Taylor Bryant blasted a double off Ledet. Ledet struck out the next batter but then gave up a one out single to Andre Mercurio. On Mercurio's single, Bryant advanced to third base to put runners at the corners. Ricky Ramirez Jr. then hit a ground ball to Brody Wofford at third. The Crushers infield was unable to turn the double play allowing Bryant to score the second run of the inning.
Florence's offense jumped on Ledet again in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ryan Rinsky got the offense going by drawing a one out walk. Ledet then struck out Austin Wobrock for the second out but would give up his second walk of the inning one batter later to Connor Crane. With two outs and runners on first and second, Reichenborn got the best of Ledet again. Reichenborn hit a three-run homer for his second home run of the game to make it a 5-0 Florence lead.
Lake Erie's offense started to chip away at the deficit one run at a time in the top of the sixth inning. Steven Kraft started off the inning with a single and advanced into scoring position two batters later on Aaron Hill's walk. With runners on first and second, Emmanuel Marrero added his 25th RBI to his resume with a single to score Kraft. Zach Racusin jumped in on the fun and hit an RBI ground rule double to score Hill and put runners at second and third. John Cable then hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Marrero and make it a 5-3 game. Unfortunately, Lake Erie could not score Racusin before the inning ended.
Jared Koenig came in for his first bullpen appearance of the year in the bottom of the fifth. His first inning was solid as he struck out the side. But in the bottom of the sixth, Florence jumped on him like they did Ledet. Koenig started out the inning walking Ryan Rinsky. Wobrock stepped in a laid down a sacrifice bunt that went right back to Koenig on the mound. When Koenig picked up the ball he tried to get the lead runner at second, but his throw took Marrero off the bag allowing both runners to be safe. Rinsky advanced to third a batter later when he tagged up from second on Connor Crane's fly out to center field. With runners at the corners and one out, Koenig struck out Reichenborn for the second out of the inning. On the pitch Koenig threw to strike out Reichenborn, Wobrock stole second. The Crushers infield tried to turn a strike 'em out throw 'em out to end the inning but catcher Karl Ellison's throw went into centerfield allowing Rinsky to score. With Wobrock on second and two outs, Bryant hit a two-run homer off Koenig to make it 8-3 in Florence's favor.
But the scoring did not stop there as Mercurio started off the bottom of the seventh hitting a triple off Koenig and then scored on an RBI sacrifice fly making it a six-run lead for Florence.
Lake Erie's offense did not give up without a fight though. In the top of the ninth inning, Joe Mortillaro was on to pitch for the Freedom. Mortillaro struggled in his outing as he walked the first two batters of the inning, and then gave up a single to Brody Wofford to load the bases. Mortillaro walked in the first run of the inning when he gave up an RBI walk to Ellison. After Ellison's at-bat, Florence went to the bullpen again and brought in Zak Spivy. With the bases loaded and no outs, Kraft hit an RBI single off Spivy to score Dale Burdick and make it a 9-5 game. The Freedom then yanked Spivy out of the game and brought in Jonathan Tripp out of the bullpen to face James Davison Jr. with the bases loaded and no outs. Tripp got Davison Jr. to fly out to shallow center field for the first out of the inning. Aaron Hill then stepped in and hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Wofford and make it 9-6. But Tripp went on to strike out Marrero to end the game and secure the win for Florence.
The Crushers are off for a few days for the Frontier League All-Star break but will start a three-game series with the Evansville Otters at Bosse Field on Friday afternoon. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:35 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.