Crushers fall in fast paced opener, 3-2
AVON - Lake Erie's ninth inning comeback fell one run short as the Crushers fell to the Gateway Grizzlies 3-2 on opening night at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.
In front of 2,938 local baseball fans, the Crushers put up a fight all game long but could not overcome the dominant start by Gateway's Tim Brown. Brown tossed eight innings and gave up one earned run on the night.
Led by veteran infielder Andrew Davis' 2-4 night with a double, triple and both runs scored, the Crushers fell just short with two outs in the ninth and a runner on second. Manager Jeff Isom said he was pleased with his team's performance, but needed to see more production at times.
"I'm a little upset with the club because we're not going to go undefeated this year," Isom joked. "I saw a lot of great things out there with that club. You want a game in two hours and two minutes. Games to start the season off [with] great defense on both sides. We ended up getting eight hits and they get two runs in [the third] inning with two outs.
"I thought it was an outstanding game and I told our guys at the end of the game that if we play this way all year long, we're going to win quite a few games."
Defensively, the Crushers were sound with short stop Juan Sanchez earning his play with a web-gem like stab and throw from short.
On the mound, veteran right hander Trevor Longfellow had a solid outing with all three runs earned over seven innings and five strikeouts. Longfellow was relieved by fireballer Jordan Wellander in the eighth and threw two scoreless innings.
"I told our pitchers, just keep it close and we have an opportunity late and that's exactly what happened," Isom said. "Unfortunately, we just couldn't come up with that big hit when we needed it but all in all, I'm pleased with what we saw."
Behind the bats of Davis and center fielder Gauntlett Eldemire, who went 3-for-3 with a double, the Crushers hitting was not in short supply. Accumulating eight hits on the night, Lake Erie left five guys stranded on the base paths and left more questions than answers.
When it came down to the ninth, the Crushers just didn't have the bat magic.
Leading off the ninth, Davis launched a ball to left that skidded to the wall as he was hustling past second.
"I've gotten to the point in my career where I like to stop at second," Davis joked. "I was rounding second and I saw that the guy didn't have the ball yet so I just kept going."
First baseman Russell Moldenhauer stepped up after Davis and hit a sac fly far enough for Davis to score standing up. Right fielder Daniel Bowman came in next and popped out for the second out and almost all hope was lost at the stadium until catcher Emmanuel Quiles snuck a two out double into the gap.
Unfortunately for the Crushers, the hopes of a come back was short lived as Seth Granger stepped in and grounded out to the pitcher.
"That's what I was hoping for, a little magic in the ninth inning," Isom said. "We gave ourselves an opportunity to put some pretty good at bats together there in the ninth. The crowd was getting into it and our guys seemed like they were more focused and we need to make sure we stay more focused from the first inning on."
"If we can get on a pitcher right away, we'll see what happens. Score some runs early."