Crushers drop rubber match to Rockford, 2-1
Lake Erie's offense was shut down Sunday night as the Crushers dropped the rubber match of a weekend series with Rockford 2-1.
Scoring a run in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Andrew Davis, the Crushers Were held in check by Rockford's Seafth Howe. Dominating Lake Erie all game long, the Crushers were no-hit by Howe until the fifth inning.
"It's kind of one of those frustrating days," manager Jeff Isom said. "We had a couple opportunities and ended up hitting into three double plays today and it ended those chances. But opportunities were limited tonight and I was glad to see Howe was out of there in the seventh and I was like, all right, now we have a chance and we got a few opportunities but just couldn't hits tonight."
The Lake Erie offense was limited to just three hits in the ball game and struggled to get runners aboard.
Ace Matt Rein started on the mound coming off a complete game two hit performance in his last outing. Despite giving up two earned runs and struggling at times, Rein still gave the Crushers every chance to win this one.
"Rein threw the ball well. I didn't think it was his best effort by any means, he battled through it but giving up two runs, he gave us every opportunity to win that ball game," Isom said. "He wasn't extremely sharp, but he got the job done.
Rein has been the rock of the Crushers rotation this season, despite his record indicating otherwise. At 4-4 this year, Rein has a 2.15 ERA in 62.2 innings pitched and Sunday proved to Isom that even when he isn't at his best, Rein is still one of the best in the league.
"There's a reason why he's in the top ten in pitching and that's the reason why he can have a night where he doesn't have his best stuff, but he has the ability to get guys out and he can be creative out there," Isom said. "It's all great when you're hitting the ball well and you're pitching the ball well, but what happens when you hit a little bump in the road? How do you respond? And he made the necessary adjustments to be able to go out there compete."
"It shows me, you know what, that's the guy I want on the mound when the game's on the line."
Rein was relieved in the seventh inning by Jordan Wellander who came in and dominated the Aviators. In three innings of work, Wellander was on his game and allowed just one hit while striking out four batters.
"He threw the ball extremely well and he's been throwing the ball well for us all year, especially as of recent," Isom said. "Just another piece of that bullpen that helps when Mickey Jannis is in the starting role."
Isom has been priming Jannis for a move from the bullpen to the fifth man in the rotation as his stats continue to impress.
Since coming off the DL in the middle of June, Jannis has made nine appearances and tossed 26 innings in his chances. With a 3-0 record on a 1.04 ERA with 26 strikeouts, Jannis is an vital piece to the Crushers puzzle as the midpoint in the season draws near.
All star game votes have been cast as just six games are left until the July 17 all star game in Washington, Penn. Lake Erie will travel to Washington next for a series Isom said is crucial to the team.
"It's going to be a tough task going into Washington, we're looking to go into there and take two out of three, if not a sweep," Isom said. "We want to get that first one so we're going to have [Dave] Middendorf on the mound and juggle our rotation around a little bit so if Middendorf pitches that first game he'll also have the last game before the all star break so it gives him a opportunity to throw two more times."
"This is a big series for us. We've got to go in there and take care of business."
Middendorf is 6-3 this season with a 2.58 ERA in a team-high 66.1 innings pitched.