Crushers outlast Miners in 17 innings, 5-4
39 combined runners were left on base.
That’s the key number from Tuesday night turned Wednesday morning’s game between the Crushers and Miners. Both teams blew numerous chances to score, before the Crushers finally took advantage in the bottom of the 17th inning to win 5-4.
The two teams played eight scoreless innings, the eighth through the 15th, as the five hour and forty seven minutes dragged deep into the night. The Miners drew first blood in extra innings, opening up a 4-3 lead when Phil Butler drove in a run with a sac fly in the top of the 16th. The inning started with two walks from Crushers lefty Connor Whalen.
But the Crushers backed up manager Jeff Isom’s statements that this is the most tight-knit group he has been a part of. Their never say die attitude allowed them to retie it in the bottom of the 16th when Seth Granger hit an RBI single to center.
An inning later, Juan Sanchez broke through with his first hit of the night to drive in the winning run in Russ Moldenhauer. Sanchez was just 1-7, but his one hit was the most important of the game.
“You can have a terrible day all day long,” Isom said, “and you never know when that big hit is needed and if you can come through. You have to put everything behind you and be mentally ready to go.”
Sanchez wouldn’t even have had the opportunity if it wasn’t for the Crushers bullpen. The group of Jannis, Dickerson, Wellander, Whalen, and Duffy combined to pitch 14 innings allowing just one run on nine hits, striking out 17.
“The bullpen was outstanding,” Isom said. “They pitched very well for us tonight. Without that bullpen this game wouldn’t have been this way for us.”
Brad Duffy earned the win to improve to 1-2 on the season. He pitched the final two innings, including a rocky top of the 17th. The Miners had the bases loaded with two outs and a 3-0 count on their number five hitter, designated hitter Jon Eisen. Duffy worked the count back full before inducing a comebacker to the mound and getting out of the inning unscathed.
Mickey Jannis, the unheralded savior of the pitching staff, continued to pitch dominantly in whatever role Isom finds for him. Today it was in long relief, as he came on in the fourth inning and pitched six innings of four-hit, shutout baseball. He struck out seven batters, and dropped his ERA to 0.68.
Jannis was forced into the game early because starter Adam Beach did not have his best stuff. Beach, a northeast Ohio native, gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks. Even though Isom had a short leash on him for Tuesday’s game, he said that Beach won’t be going anywhere.
“He left some balls up. He got himself in trouble,” Isom said. “It’s gonna be some time with him. We’re willing to wait it out because we see a quality arm. We just have to teach him to pitch professionally.”
The downside of having to use six pitchers is that the Crushers will be short-handed for Wednesday morning’s 11:05 first pitch. Brandon Smith, who was just signed by the team recently, and Michael Jahns did not pitch and will be available, and Isom said that Dickerson, who only pitched one inning, will also be able to pitch.
It will be a quick turnaround for both teams, but Isom said his team is in a better position pitching-wise, and that it will come down to “chemical warfare” for the series’ rubber match.
“One thing I was mentioning talking with guys,” Isom said, “make sure you get a lot of caffeine and a lot of red bulls. Whoever beans up and whoever has the most caffeine is gonna win that game.”
Matt Smith will be on the mound for the series finale looking to build 2-3 record. The task for him, as it will be for Miners starter Blake Nation, will be to go deep into the game and save the bullpen.
“It’s gonna be a big day for both those starters. They’re gonna have to go out there and chew some innings up,” Isom said.
Tuesday night’s game also featured the professional debut of Wes Meadows. Meadows is an infielder from Otterbein College, and made his debut as the Crushers designated hitter. He was 0-6 in his first game before being replaced by Kevin Berard, but Isom said he is impressed by Meadows ability to hit the ball.
“There’s a lot to like about him. I know it’s not the night that he wanted to start his professional career, but he’s gonna figure this out. He’s a good player.”
It remains to be seen if Meadows will be back in the lineup for Wednesday morning’s game, but with only a few hours between games, it won’t be long until Isom has to pencil in his lineup.
“I’m gonna sleep here in the clubhouse. I might not even get out of my uniform just to wake up, write the lineup card up and be ready to go.”
Isom won’t be the only one staying the night in the clubhouse. A small group of players will also be spending the night at All Pro Freight Stadium. Isom points to this as proof how close this team is becoming, and says this closeness is what won them the game on Tuesday night.
Notes: To make room for Meadows on the roster the Crushers released relief pitcher Ben Klafczynski…The Crushers tied the game at three in the seventh on an RBI triple from Andrew Davis. It was Davis’ fourth triple of the year…Miners cleanup hitter Gerardo Avila was ejected after the play for arguing that Davis’ hit down the first baseline was foul…The Crushers first two runs came in the first inning on an RBI single from Bowman and an RBI fielders’ choice from Moldenhauer…The Miners first three runs came on a bases loaded walk in the first and back-to-back RBI singles in the third off of Beach.