Crushers on fire in 8-3 victory
Davis' home run starts Lake Erie toward powerful win
During the seventh inning, the fire alarm at All Pro Freight Stadium blared through the building.
It was a little bit late, but undoubtedly it was triggered by the Crushers' offensive fire power in their 8-3, series-opening win against the WildThings (30-34). Despite falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first, the Crushers (34-30) lit up the scoreboard with seven runs in the first five innings.
Andrew Davis got it all started when he blasted a three-run home run to the inflatable obstacle course in right field. It was his 13th home run of the season, good for third in the Frontier League.
"I don't know what to say. I just got lucky I guess," Davis said with a laugh. "He threw me a changeup. I was just a little out in front of it. I got lucky I hit it in in the air."
"That's what we missed from Davis for a while," manager Jeff Isom said. "It set the tone for the whole game."
Isom was right. That was only the beginning of the Crushers offensive showcase. They added a run in the third on an RBI single from Davis. It was his team leading 44th RBI. The run pushed the Crushers back out in front 4-3 after the WildThings had previously tied the game on a home run from Quincy Latimore. Latimore started the season in the Indians farm system with Double-A Akron.
The WildThings first two runs also came off of solo home runs. In the first inning, CJ Beatty and Mark Samuelson each cleared the fence as the WildThings jumped out to a 2-0 lead.
But Davis' four early RBI changed the game. The Crushers were able to push the lead even further in the fifth inning, when the top of the order came through with back-to-back two-out, bases-loaded singles to score three times.Craig Hertler shot a pitch into right field to score Russ Moldenhauer and make it 5-3. Seth Granger followed that up with a two-run single of his own, bringing Anderson Hidalgo and David Roney into score. The Crushers lead stretched to 7-3.
"All that with two outs was the icing on the cake," Isom said. "If we can get any two out production, then we can break these games open."
That's exactly what the Crushers did tonight. They added one more run in the sixth when Kevin Berard doubled home Moldenhauer, who had led off with a single for the second-straight inning. Moldenhauer was 3-for-4 on the night and he reached base in all five plate appearances, also reaching on a fielder's choice and a hit by pitch.
The middle of the Crushers lineup was dominant. Daniel Bowman, Davis, and Moldenhauer combined to go 8-for-12 with two walks, five runs scored, and eight RBI. It was a much needed change of pace for the Crushers, who haven't seen all three of their middle-of-the-order hitters get hot all at once.
"We're seeing better at bats," Isom said. "If we can get those guys to do it back-to-back-to-back, we're gonna do some damage."
Alex Kaminsky started the game for the Crushers. He put up a quality start, going six innings and giving up three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out three batters, earning the win to improve to 5-5 on the season. Outside of the three solo home runs, Kaminsky put together another fine start to help get his team the victory. The home runs ended up not being a big deal, anyway.
"Early on he elevated some pitches and they were flying out of here," Isom said. "Solo home runs aren't usually gonna kill you. It's the ones were you're giving up two, three runs. Those are back breakers."
Kaminsky was relieved by Brandon Smith, who pitched three innings to earn his first professional save. Smith gave up just two hits and struck out a batter. He got the opportunity to finish the game because he has earned his manager's confidence, and he will likely be turned to more and more as he continues to pitch effectively out of the bullpen.
The Crushers are now 8-5 since the All-Star break and they're getting hot at the right time. As Andrew Davis said, "you want to be winning in the second half."
Davis and his teammates will look to keep winning by taking advantage of a WildThings club that is now four games under .500. A sweep would push them to a season-best six games over .500 as they head into a matchup with the division-leading Beach Bums.
Isom won't get ahead of himself yet, though.
"You have to win two before you can win three," he said. Translation: his team better not be looking to far ahead, instead focusing only on tomorrow's game.
Dave Middendorf will be on the mound for game two of the series looking to improve on his team-best 8-5 record.