AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, could not get the offense going today against the Evansville Otters and dropped the second game of the series by a final score of 6-0.
The Crushers (36-30) are now 3-5 against Evansville this season with the loss. While the Otters (39-28) win their seventh out of their last 10 with the win.
David LeMasters (0-1) gets the loss in his first professional start. LeMasters gave up four earned runs on seven hits, walked six, and struck out three over his 5.0 innings of work. Austin Nicely (4-7) picks up the win in today's contest as he threw a complete game shutout, walked three and struck out three.
LeMasters had trouble getting out of the first inning before he settled in. In the top of the first, Evansville had 10 batters take an at-bat and scored four earned runs on four hits. David Cronin led off the game with a ground rule double and the Otters' offense took off from there. LeMasters got Jack Meggs to ground out for the first out but then gave up an RBI single to Ryan Long for the first run of the inning.
LeMasters went on to walk the next two batters to load the bases with only one out. Keith Grieshaber added to Evansville's lead with an RBI single to make it a 2-0 game. Mike Rizzitello jumped in on the fun and hit an RBI single into right for the third run of the inning. LeMasters then walked in the fourth run before getting out of the inning with a strikeout and fly out.
Evansville added to their lead in the top of the ninth inning to put the game out of reach. With Seth Lucio on the mound in relief, Grieshaber got the offense going with a one out double. Lucio got Rizzitello to fly out for the second out of the inning but then walked Hunter Cullen a batter later. Tanner Wetrich hit an RBI single to score the first run and during the play the Crushers defense broke down. When Cullen was advancing from first to third on Wetrich's hit, Bryan De La Rosa threw the ball to third to try and get Cullen out but no one was covering the bag. De La Rosa's throw sailed into left and Cullen came in to score the sixth run of the game for the Otters.
After his bad first inning, LeMasters started to settle in nicely. LeMasters was able to work out of jams and didn't allow another run over his next four innings. He was not the sole reason for the Crushers lost in this one. Lake Erie's offense failed to put pressure on Evansville's starter Nicely. Lake Erie's biggest threat came in the bottom of the first inning.
Aaron Hill started the bottom of the first with a single and then stole second to put himself into scoring position. A batter later, Zach Racusin flew out to second for the first out. Emmanuel Marrero followed Hill's lead a stroked a single to move Hill 90-feet closer to scoring. Two of the Crushers best hitters in Dale Burdick and Steven Kraft couldn't get the job done and stranded Hill on third to end the inning. After the first, Lake Erie did not have a base runner reach third on Nicely.
Lake Erie had runners get into scoring position against Nicely but could not capitalize. When it was all said and done, the Crushers offense left nine runners on base. The Crushers were able to get the lead off man on in four out of the nine innings but could not do anything with it. That's been a common theme for Lake Erie's offense all year long. As a team, the Crushers bat .298 to lead off innings but as soon as runners are on base, the Crushers batting average drops to .226 as a team.
Nicely's outing marks the third time he has thrown at least seven innings in an outing against the Crushers and it is his second time this year where he has shut out Lake Erie's offense.
The Crushers will finish their three-game series with the Evansville Otters on Thursday. Lake Erie will go with lefty Pat Ledet (4-4, 2.34) on the mound. While the Otters will have right-hander Tyler Vail (5-5, 3.14) on the mound.
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.