Bowman leads Crushers past Wild Things 11-1
Right fielder has big night as Lake Erie finishes sweep
Oh man, Daniel Bowman had a game on Thursday night.
The Crushers right fielder finished the day 4-for-5 with a home run and 5 RBI. He led the charge as the Crushers defeated the Wild Things 11-1 to complete their second-straight sweep and third-straight at All Pro Freight Stadium. They have won 16 of their last 18 games.
Bowman’s three-run home run capped off a five-run sixth inning that blew the game open. The home run came with two men out, as did all five of his RBI. Coming into action on Thursday night, he was hitting .346 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
“I don’t know if it’s easy; I think he just locks in a little bit there, and he really wants to get those RBI,” manager Jeff Isom said of his right fielder.
His performance tonight earned him a shaving cream pie to the face, something that he normally dishes out to his teammates.
The entire Crushers lineup continues to show confidence hitting with two outs and that confidence is what has led them into a first-place tie with Traverse City, who also won over the Frontier Greys on Thursday night. Nine of the Crushers’ 11 runs on the night came with two men out
“I don’t think we had nine runs with two outs in all of July,” Isom said with a laugh. “Yeah, there’s confidence when we’re taking the field. It’s definitely a confident group.
“We gotta stay grounded. We can’t get too high. Can’t get too low, but not a whole lot of lows right now.”
The sixth inning was the key to game, according to Isom. The game was still within reach at 4-1 going into the frame. Anderson Hidalgo led off with a single and bumped Wild Things starter Shawn Blackwell from the game. Jhonny Montoya came on in relief, but he only made things worse.
Montoya walked the first batter he faced. After a sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position, he sent a pitch to the back stop allowing the first run of the inning to score. He proceeded to walk Sanchez and set the stage for Craig Hertler.
With a 5-1 lead, Isom wasn’t afraid to utilize Hertler’s speed and bunting ability. Hertler laid down a beautiful safety squeeze between the pitcher and catcher. Montoya couldn’t get to the ball in time and everybody was safe on the play.
“It was a good situation,” Isom said. “He’s a great bunter and took advantage of that situation. A lot of things that he offers for the club that makes him very valuable for us.”
The Wild Things may have harbored some ill will on the play. Hertler was drilled in the back in his next plate appearance in the eighth inning and both benches were warned. Isom went out to talk with home plate umpire Jerry Stangelo and opposing manager Bart Zeller. After extended conversation, Isom was left with the conclusion that there was no malintent on the play. It is certainly reasonable that Montoya just lost control of the pitch, as he walked three batters and threw a wild pitch.
Back to the sixth inning, where Bowman came to the plate after a Max Casper strikeout and capped things off by hooking a home run around the right-field foul pole.
The 11-run outburst made it easy to miss Matt Smith’s impressive performance on the mound. Smith pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on three hits, striking out six Wild Thing hitters. He earned the win to improve to 5-3 on the year. The lone run allowed came off a Mark Samuelson home run in the second inning.
“What I was impressed with Smith tonight, more so than the effort and the score and everything, was he was working on a couple things. He got more breaking balls over than what he’s done in the past and knows that he’s gotta get that over to have a lot of success.”
Samuelson’s home run to right answered a two-run shot from Andrew Davis, who belted a ball off the kid’s zone inflatable obstacle course in right field in the first inning. It was his 16th home run on the season, and it gave the Crushers a 2-0 lead.
The Crushers got two more in the second inning when Bowman ripped a two-out, two-run single to center field.
The last two Crusher runs came in the eighth inning when Andrew Davis hit a two-run double to center with two men out.
Brandon Smith pitched the final two innings out of the bullpen for the Crushers. He retired all six men he faced and struck out two.
The Crushers will welcome the Greys into All Pro Freight Stadium tomorrow night for a three-series. Alex Kaminsky will be on the mound to kick things off, looking to build on his 6-5 record.