Crushers lose a close one to River City, 4-2
Lake Erie lost another close game late on Saturday against River City 4-2, falling behind in the first two games of the weekend series.
With the Crushers bats continuing to produce hits, the run support just isn't there for manager Jeff Isom's liking. Saturday, the team again hit the ball well with seven hits, but did not get runners home.
"We're getting some clutch hits to come back, but if you look at the ranking of our hitting, we're first in hitting yet near the bottom in runs scored," Isom said. "We just need to piece some hits together, string them together, and that's what we're not getting at this point as much as we could be doing.
"Maybe be a little bit more efficient on the offensive side and have an opportunity to take advantage of those opportunities because we have a lot of guys in scoring position."
For the Crushers, it was the bull pen that again took the loss after a solid outing from the starting pitching. Michael Jahns was credited fro the loss after pitching 1.1 innings, giving up two earned runs on just one hit and three walks in the eighth inning.
Isom said he is still looking for his bull pen to step up their game, but rookie Spencer Clifft in his professional debut had a very promising outing for Lake Erie. After giving up two runs in the first, Clifft went on to pitch five scoreless innings.
"We didn't know what to expect with him in his first start we just needed to find a fifth starter and the guy that had the most reps," Isom said. "Two runs was a concern but then he bounced right back. He and Chris Mongiardo, our pitching coach, got together and came up with a plan of attack and what he did very well was locate his off speed pitched. That's where he got himself out of trouble."
"For a first out, I was very pleased. He kept us in the game and gave us every opportunity to win this one."
Clifft had all two of the Crushers' strike outs in the game, a change of pace from a rotation that has seen a high percentage of strike out victims. Ex Indians' prospect Dale Dickerson finished out the eight inning and gave up one hit.
One the Isom has been able to continue to do is plug in several different players into the lineup. Aside from guys like Andrew Davis and Russell Moldenhauer, Isom has been tweaking his lineup card each game this season.
Youngster Max Casper has been a frequent in the Crushers' lineup so far this year and has been yielding solid numbers at the plate, despite being known for his glove.
Casper has hit safely in all three games he has started these season and been efficient on the base path by scoring twice. Isom said he is happy with what ever Casper does with the bat because he fields so well at second, despite being a short stop up until now.
"Every time he gets his name called, he goes out there and produces and does something to help the team out," Isom said. "He just finds ways to get hits. He's not going to hit the ball over a lot of guys' heads, but he's going to end up putting the ball in play, run up the count, be smart with two strikes, advance runners; he does the little things. And then defensively, the nights that he has been in there he has made two outstanding defensive plays that he could make at the big league level."
On Sunday, the Crushers will have a shot at taking one away from the Rascals to salvage the weekend series with ace Trevor Longfellow on the mound. Isom said a win would keep his guys right where they want to be early on.
"If we can take two out of three from teams at home and go .500 on the road, we're going to set ourselves up to be in the playoff," Isom said. "I've gone with that philosophy from when I started doing this and it's worked every time."
"Tomorrow's game gives us and opportunity to be .500 and be right where we need to be. It's a big win, but it's early on in the year and we're figuring out what guys need to do. This team is much better than what we're playing right now. We've played some pretty good baseball, but I know we're better than what we are."