Crushers earn split in doubleheader with Miners
Controversial call costs Lake Erie in game one
Both teams fought until the very end, and even then, manager Jeff Isom kept fighting.
First baseman Russell Moldenhauer was originally called safe by the first base umpire on an infield single, but after a chit chat with Miners manager Mike Pinto and a conference with the rest of the crew, he changed the call. Moldenhauer was out and the game was over. The Crushers fell to the Southern Illinois Miners 7-6 in seven innings in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader.
Isom, not satisfied with the loss, left the dugout to talk things over with the umpire, whose ejection of the Crushers skipper seemed a tad over dramatic as there wasn’t any game left for Isom to manage. He was allowed to return for game two, which the Crushers were able to win 6-3, salvaging a split on the night.
Brandon Cunniff picked up the save for the Miners as they improved to 3-1 after the win, but fell to 3-2 after the loss in game two. The Crushers are now 2-3 on the season.
Designated hitter Phil Butler won game one for the Miners with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth off of Crushers right-hander Jordan Wellander, who relieved starter Dave Middendorf in the fifth-inning and pitched the final inning and two-thirds. Wellander was charged with his fist loss on the season and allowed his first three runs. Miners’ lefty Dayne Quist earned the win.
The Miners had made it a 6-5 game, scoring a run off of a throwing error from Crushers shortstop Juan Sanchez.
The Crushers held a 6-4 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning after left fielder Gauntlett Eldemire broke a 4-4 tie in the top of the sixth driving in a run on a fielder’s choice. The Crushers added one more on a Kevin Berard single to make it 6-4, but Eldemire was thrown out trying to advance to third, a mistake which ended the Crushers threat and proved costly in the loss.
Miners first baseman Jason Ganek had tied the game at four with a sac fly off of Wellander in the bottom of the fifth inning. Wellander was called into action after Middendorf put runners on the corners with just one out in the inning. The Crushers lefty starter went four and a third innings giving up four runs on six hits to go along with three walks and two strikeouts in his first start of the season.
Middendorf was scheduled to start in the rained-out game on Tuesday night. Isom, who is working with a four man rotation to start the season elected to stick with him for the doubleheader on Wednesday. Trevor Longfellow was Wednesday’s scheduled starter and he picked up the win in game two, pitching five innings and giving up three runs on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Matt Smith earned the save. Daniel Bowman was the difference maker, as drove in three runs in the Crushers victory.
Butler, the hero of game one who was playing in front of his father, started things off for the Miners with a two-run double in the bottom of the second and finished with a game-high four RBI. The Miners pushed their lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third with a solo home run from left fielder Gerardo Avila.
The Crushers charged right back in the top of the fourth. They scored four runs on just two pitches, starting with a sac fly from designated hitter Anderson Hidalgo, who was playing in his first game since being activated off the suspended list. Catcher Emmanuel Quilles proceeded to hit a three-run home run and the Crushers led 4-3.
The rally prompted Miner’s play-by-play voice Mike Ventola to say, “This Lake Erie team is good.” Unfortunately they weren’t quite good enough to win both games in Marion, Illinois, but will take the split and look ahead to the rubber match on Thursday.