Crushers fall to CornBelters 4-1
Middendorf, Lake Erie offense falter as team cannot overcome early deficit
Jeff Isom has a lot of theories.
One of them pertains to his starting pitchers, and it rang true on Tuesday night.
Isom likes to say that out of ten starts, a pitcher will have his best stuff in two of them. In two others, they'll lack their usual good command. In the other six, they will be somewhere in between.
Early on, this was one of the starts where Dave Middendorf did not have it. He put the Crushers in a 4-0 hole through two innings, as they went on to lose the CornBelters 4-1. The Crushers fell to 50-32 with the loss, which snapped their season-high 11 game winning streak.
Mike Schwartz got things going right away for the CornBelters. On the fourth pitch of the game from Middendorf, he belted a home run to put his team up 1-0.
In the second inning, it got even worse. With runners on the corners and one out, number nine hitter Santiago Chirino singled in the first run of the inning. An error by the normally slick-fielding Middendorf allowed a second run to score and the inning to continue. Schwartz would go on to single to center for his second hit and second RBI of the ball game. Chirino came around to score on a throwing error by Craig Hertler. His run was unearned.
To Middendorf's credit, he was able to compose himself and pitch through the sixth inning, keeping the CornBelters at bay for the remainder of the contest. Unfortunately, the Crushers offense was also tamed. CornBelters started Michael Schweiss pitched 7.1 innings giving up just one run. Schweiss earned the win to improve to 5-2 on the season. Middendorf was charged with the loss and dropped to 10-7 for the year.
The Crushers only run came in the fourth inning. Right fielder Daniel Bowman led off the inning with a ground rule double. He advanced to third on an Andrew Davis groundout, and scored when Russ Moldenhauer grounded out to second.
The Crushers threatened to come back in the ninth inning. With two outs, Vincent Mejia pinch hit for Max Casper. Mejia struck out, but advanced to third on a dropped third strike. The next batter, Craig Hertler, was hit by a pitch, and everybody would be safe on a Seth Granger fielder's choice. Bowman stepped to the plate with an opportunity to unleash some Freight magic on the road.
Instead, he rolled over on the third pitch of the at bat and grounded out to first to end the game.
The Crushers managed eight hits in the ball game, but only had the one run to show for it. When the team has struggled this season, this has been their Achilles heel. They have been so hot of late, however, that Tuesday night's game may just have been an aberration. Also, credit must be given to Schweiss, who pitched an excellent ball game against the Frontier League's hottest team.
Isom subscribes to another theory, one that is more common than most: each day in baseball presents another opportunity. While one winning streak may have come to an end on Tuesday, the Crushers wake up on Wednesday with the opportunity to start a brand new one. They will look to even the series at 1-1.