AVON, Ohio -- The Lake Erie Crushers, presented by Mercy Health, could not out last the Evansville Otters in the first game of the series and lost by a final score of 5-4.
The Crushers (38-33) drop their sixth game in their last ten with the loss. While the Otters (40-32) snap a three-game losing streak with the win.
It was another well pitched game from both starting pitchers tonight. Pat Ledet started for Lake Erie and gave up three runs on six hits, walked two and struck out five over his 6.1 innings of work. Tyler Vail was the starter for the Otters and turned in an impressive game. Vail threw 7.0 innings where he gave up two runs on five hits walked three and struck out seven. But neither one of the starters got the win or loss.
Cam Opp (3-1) gets the win as he pitched a scoreless eighth inning. And Evy Ruibal (1-3) gets the loss as he gave up the go ahead run in his inning of work. Taylor Wright (10) got the save as he shut the door on the Crushers offense in the top of the ninth to secure the win for Evansville.
In the bottom of the first inning, Lake Erie got the scoring started. Emmanuel Marrero hit a one out single and advanced to second on a wild pitch during Steven Kraft's at-bat. But Kraft went on to strike out for the second out of the inning. Dale Burdick then stepped in and hit an RBI double to score Marrero and make it a 1-0 Lake Erie lead.
Ledet was fantastic through his first six innings tonight. He did not allow a run until the bottom of the fifth and did not allow too many base runners. He pitched wonderfully in the third to get out of an early jam. JJ Gould hit a groundball down the third base line that went all the way to the wall for a lead off double. But that did not phase Ledet. Ledet got the next batter David Cronin to fly out on three pitches and then struck out Keith Grieshaber for two easy outs. Ryan Long worked a full count on Ledet before flying out to end the inning and strand Gould in scoring position.
In the bottom of the fifth, Evansville tied the game. Ledet hit the lead off batter with a pitch and then gave up an RBI double to Dakota Phillips. After the double Ledet settled down and retired the next three batters in a row to get out of the inning and keep Phillips on second.
The Crushers offense answered back quickly with a run of their own in the next inning. Kraft hit a lead off single and then stole second to put himself into scoring position. With the stolen base, Kraft now has 23 on the season and has been caught stealing only three times. Burdick then walked a batter later to put runners on first and second. And Brody Wofford laid down a sac bunt to move both of the runners over. Zach Racusin put the team on his back and hit an RBI ground out to score Kraft and put Lake Erie ahead 2-1.
But the lead only lasted until the bottom of the seventh inning when Evansville added three runs on smart base running and defensive miscues. Ledet struck out Phillips to start the inning but then walked Gould a batter later. With the runner on first David Cronin hit a single to put Gould into scoring position. The Crushers then took Ledet out and brought in Augie Gallardo out of the bullpen. But the pitching change did not work in the Crushers favor. Gallardo gave up a single to the first batter he faced, Grieshaber, to load the bases.
During Ryan Long's at-bat, a past ball got by Bryan De La Rosa and allowed Gould to score the tying run and move the remaining base runners into scoring position. The second run of the inning came in a disappointing way. Long hit a weak ground ball off Gallardo that went into no man's land between De La Rosa and Gallardo. By the time De La Rosa picked up the ball, Cronin had already scored the go-ahead run. The last run of the inning came during Mike Rizzitello's at-bat. Gallardo threw a wild pitch that allowed Grieshaber to score and make it a 4-2 Evansville lead.
The Crushers answered back in the next half inning with two runs to tie the game. Kevin Simmons started the inning on the mound for the Otters in relief of Tyler Vail. Simmons walked the first batter he faced, Marrero, and then gave up a single to Kraft to put himself in a jam. With Burdick up to bat, Simmons threw a wild pitch that advanced both runners into scoring position and would go on to walk Burdick to load the bases.
The Otters wasted no time and went to their bullpen to bring out Cam Opp to face Wofford. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Opp threw a wild pitch to score Marrero and move Kraft to third. Racusin came up clutch again for Lake Erie and hit his second RBI ground out of the game to score Kraft to tie the game 4-4.
Evy Ruibal came on to pitch for the Crushers in the bottom of the eighth. Ruibal got the first batter he faced out with a ground out but did not have as much luck with the second batter of the inning. On a 1-0 count, Hunter Cullen smacked a solo home run to put Evansville ahead 5-4.
Lake Erie threated to score in the top of the ninth but failed to do so against the Otters close Taylor Wright.
The Crushers will continue their three-game series with the Evansville Otters on Wednesday at Bosse Field. It is still TBA on who will pitch for Lake Erie. But the Otters will have left-hander Austin Nicely (4-7, 5.23) 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.