AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, put on a hitting clinic for those in attendance on Wednesday night as they scored 11 runs on 18 hits to dominate the Gateway Grizzlies and win 11-3.
The Crushers (34-25) are now 13-4 in the month of July with the win. While the Grizzlies (24-36) lose their third consecutive game.
Brock Riley started his first professional game tonight for the Crushers and turned in a solid performance. Riley went 4.0 innings and gave up two runs on four hits, walked four and struck out two over his outing. Kent Hasler (4-2) got the win tonight as he came in and pitch 3.0 innings of relief, gave up one run on four hits and struck out five. Ian Kahaloa (1-4) started for the Gateway Grizzlies and got the loss as he gave up four runs on seven hits, walked two and struck out seven.
The final score is not indicative of the start to the game. At one point, Gateway led 2-0 over Lake Erie before the offense came around. In the bottom of the second inning, Shawon Dunston Jr. hit a solo home run to score the first run of the game.
The second run for Gateway came an inning later. Brent Sakurai hit a single to start the inning. Riley walked Luis Roman and then gave up a single to Connor Owings to load the bases. A batter later, Luke Lowry hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Sakurai and put the Grizzlies up by two.
A half inning later in the top of the fourth, the Crushers cut the deficit down by one. Zach Racusin started the inning with a double to put himself into scoring position. Kahaloa struck out Dale Burdick for the first out of the inning but walked Brody Wofford to put runners at first and second. Steven Kraft kept the offense going with a single to left to load the bases. The Crushers RBI King Jake Vieth then stepped up to the plate and hit an RBI sacrifice fly to score Racusin and make it a 2-1 game.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Crushers took the lead with the long ball. Kahaloa got two quick outs to start the inning but gave up a single to Emmanuel Marrero. Moments later Racusin reached on an error made by the third baseman Owing to advance Marrero into scoring position. With two outs and runners on, Burdick hit a towering opposite field home run to give the Crushers the lead 4-2. The three-run blast was Burdick's seventh on the season and his fourth in his last six games.
Lake Erie added to their lead in the top of the sixth inning with timely hitting. Relief pitcher Dakota Smith came in for Kahaloa and struck out the first two batters he faced. On an 2-0 count, Aaron Hill smoked a single into right. Marrero followed up the hit with a single of his own. Racusin continued to be a pain in the Grizzlies' side and hit an RBI single to score Hill and extend the lead to three. The second run of the inning came a batter later when Burdick hit an RBI single to score Marrero and make it a 6-2 Lake Erie lead.
Gateway went to the bullpen in the top of the eighth and brought out their second-best relief pitcher, Jason Seever, to try and shut down the Crushers offense. It didn't work. The Crushers put the nail in the coffin in the inning scoring five runs on five hits.
Seever started the inning walking John Cable and then gave up a two-run inside the park home run to Hill. With the unconventional homer, Hill now leads the team with 11 on the season. Marrero followed the inside the park home run with a double. Seever got the next two batters out on four pitches and looked like for a second he was going to limit the damage to only two runs.
But the Crushers were not finished just yet. Wofford hit an RBI single to score Marrero for the third run of the game. Kraft then picked up his third hit of the night to advance Wofford into scoring position. Vieth then added to his RBI total for the night as he hit a bases clearing double. With his three RBI tonight Vieth now has a team leading 39 on the season.
Augie Gallardo shut the door on Gateway in the bottom of the ninth inning working a three up three down inning. With his scoreless inning, Gallardo dropped his ERA to a stupendous 0.86, one of the best among the entire Frontier League.
The Crushers will finish their three-game series with the Gateway Grizzlies at GCS Ballpark on Thursday night. The Crushers will go with Jared Koenig (4-0, 2.94) on the bump. While the Grizzlies will go with righty Reign Letkeman (1-2, 3.34). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM CST.
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.