Bowman's blast wins it for Crushers in extras, 6-5
Daniel Bowman gave Lake Erie fans a second night of fireworks, but he did this one with his bat.
Tied up at 5-5 in the bottom of the tenth inning, the Crushers' outfielder launched a ball high and deep into the night sky towards the deepest and tallest part of All Pro Freight Stadium. Rockford's Michael Hur retreated back to the wall as the 400 foot indicator in centerfield grew larger and larger.
A packed house at the Freight erupted as Bowman's ball found its way over the fence to give the Crushers a 6-5 victory over the Aviators for their fourth win in a row.
"It was exciting," manager Jeff Isom said after the game. "Could be anybody in our line up any day coming up with a big hit and tonight was Bowman's chance and he got a pitch that he could handle, finally got a ball middle-in [it was] exciting. Especially with that crowd."
Walking into the club house after the game, Bowman was assaulted in celebration by his teammates. In traditional baseball fashion, Bowman was met by Anderson Hidalgo in the clubhouse door with the whipped cream pie to the face as players and managers got in on the celebration.
But aside from his game winning run, Bowman helped power the victory early on in this one scoring Andrew Davis in the first inning to give the Crushers a 1-0 lead. Davis contributed as well as he had a big day at the plate with two RBIs on a pair of double.
Bowman and Davis did everything they could in this one, but it was Mickey Jannis who kept the Crushers in this one after one of the strangest plays at the plate ever seen happened with Matt Smith on the mound.
In the fifth inning, Smith got into some trouble after giving up a pair of hits to leave runners on second and third with nobody out. Rockford's Kenny Bryant stepped in and slapped a looper to centerfield that was caught by Kevin Berard in shallow center.
Here's where the play takes an odd turn, Berard gunned the ball to home plate, but sailed past catcher Emmanuel Quiles who chased it down and flipped the ball to home to Smith covering. Smith applied the tag to the advancing Aviator, but the ball slipped out.
When the ball came out of Smith's glove, the Rockford player took the ball and rolled it away from Smith while signaling the runner who had advanced to second home. Quiles grabbed the ball and tagged the runner, but the umpire signaled safe and Quiles lost his cool.
After a heated debate, which will be sent to the league office for review, Quiles was tossed from the game and both runners were called safe and gave Rockford a 4-2 lead.
"Those two runs, crazy, you come to the ball park and think you've seen everything," Isom said. "I've been involved in professional baseball for 20 years now and that's something I haven't seen."
Isom said he was proud of his team, who had four errors as a team on the night, for coming back after falling behind. In the bottom of the fifth, the Crushers tagged Rockford for three runs to regain the lead.
"Ended up responding though, right away, we came back and got three runs following that, so that was good to see our guys didn't give in," Isom said. "As long as we play defense and have good pitching, we are going to have opportunities to win against every team. So the defense let us down a little bit, got us into a bind, but guys responded. It wasn't 'all right, uh-oh, we're in trouble,' it was 'all right, here's a sense of urgency. Let's get that lead back.'"
Jordan Wellander earned the win in the 10th in his one inning of work.
The Crushers have not named a starter for Saturday's game but Isom said it will be a "bullpen by committee" for first pitch at 7:05.