Crushers fall to Joliet, 3-1
Lake Erie's bull pen played the role of the villain Saturday night as the Crushers fell victim to the Joliet Slammers 3-1 in extra innings on superhero night.
The Crushers' lone run came in the third inning from center fielder Gauntlett Eldemire's bat with two outs that scored catcher David Roney from second. After that Joliet's Jacob Sanchez retired the next nine batters in his dominating 10 strikeout performance.
Pitcher Dave Middendorf pitched his best outing of the season going 7.2 innings giving up six hits and one earned run to the last better he faced. In the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on third, manager Jeff Isom headed to the mound to talk to his pitcher for the next move.
"The conversation there was more to give him a break because he had just made a great play by getting the ball on the right-hand side of the infield and picks it up and makes the out at first," Isom said. "I just wanted to let him know, you know what this game is his; win or lose, or how ever you want to look at it in that situation, I just wanted to give time to catch his breath and focus on executing the next pitch."
Middendorf's next pitch was a sharp liner that third baseman Andrew Davis made a sensation diving stop for, but his throw to first was a split second too late as the run crossed home plate.
"I'm not going to second guess myself there, it was the right move to do."
From there, Isom turned the game over to his bullpen who struggled to answer the call. Jordan Wellander came on next for the Crushers as he gave up two hits, including to the go ahead runner in the tenth.
Newly acquired Rickey Bowen came on to pitch after a walk and a sac bunt to move the runner to second on Wellander's watch. Bowen proceeded to walk all three batters he faced, including the go ahead run.
"Bullpen came in, Wellander threw well and then we made that change and the walks ended up coming back to haunt us," Isom said.
Finally Dale Dickerson was called in to stop the bleeding as he ended the away half of the 10th. In the bottom of the frame the Crushers looked like they had some life left in them when red-hot Kevin Berard came in to pinch hit for Roney and answered the call with a double with two outs.
Short stop Juan Sanchez followed Berard with a walk to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in pinch hitter Emmanuel Quilles. Quilles couldn't be the hero as all he could do was hit a soft, high grounder back to the mound to end the game.
At the end of the day Isom said he is happy with where his starters are, but the hitting needs to stay consistent, despite Joliet's Sanchez being what he called the best pitcher the team has seen all year.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't generate any runs tonight, their starter, I tip our cap to him because he was probably one of the best pitchers we've seen in this league," Isom said. "I was really impressed with his stuff and we just couldn't get anything going."