Crushers capture division championship with 5-1 win
AVON, Ohio. -- The Lake Erie Crushers captured their first divisional championship, with a 5-1 victory over the Traverse City Beach Bums at All Pro Freight Stadium on Wednesday night.
The victory for the Crushers (56-39) was their fifth in a row, and guarantees them the second seed in the playoffs. The loss for the Beach Bums (54-41) was their 11th in a row on the road.
Securing the second seed, and an Eastern Division Championship also means that the Crushers will host the Beach Bums on Saturday Sept. 7, and Sunday Sept. 8, at All Pro Freight Stadium for the first two games in a best of five series in the first round of the Frontier League playoffs.
Lake Erie established control early on, by plating four runs in the first two innings of the contest and never looked back.
It began in the bottom of the first inning, as Craig Hertler started the frame with a triple to the gap in left-center field. Hertler scored a few moments later on Seth Granger’s groundout. Daniel Bowman followed with a base hit, and Anderson Hidalgo drove him home on a double.
The Crushers doubled their lead in the bottom of the second. Emmanuel Quiles and Max Casper stroked back-to-back one out doubles, and Granger belted a two-out base hit to score Quiles. With runners at the corners and two away, Lake Erie executed a double steal to plate their next run. Granger stole second, as Casper stole home on the throw to second base to cap the inning.
The Beach Bums were limited to just five hits on the night, and scored their lone run in the top of the fourth. Chase Burch, who had two of their five hits, began the fourth inning with a double. He made his way to third on Jose Vargas’s fly out to center, and scored on Matt Howard’s groundout.
Lake Erie added one more run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bowman started the inning with a double, and advanced to third on Russ Moldenhauer’s fly out to center. Hidalgo struck again a few moments later with a single to plate the final run of the game.
Adam Beach (3-1), a Vermillion, Ohio, native, scored the victory for the Crushers. He allowed just a run on three hits over five innings of action. The trio of Mickey Jannis, Brandon Smith and Matt Rein combined to toss four scoreless innings of two hit relief. Jake Sabol (10-6) took the loss, after allowing five runs on 10 hits through five innings of action.
While three Crushers hit safely multiple times, seven out of the starting nine reached safely at least once. Hertler, Bowman and Hidalgo led the Lake Erie attack offensively with two hits apiece. Hertler went 2-for-4 with a pair of extra base hits, while Bowman went 2-for-3, reaching three times and scored twice and Hidalgo went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs driven in.
The Crushers will finish the regular season against the Traverse City Beach Bums at All Pro Freight Stadium on Thursdaynight. Right-hander Jason Wilson (4-5, 5.60) will start for the Crushers and Mike Devine (6-2, 3.95) will start for the Beach Bums. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.