Crushers outlast rain delay, win 5-1
Smith's six shutout innings lead Crushers on rainy night
Lake Erie's offense has come alive after starting the season dormant with a 5-1 victory over the Joliet Slammers Friday night.
After a near two-hour rain delay, manager Jeff Isom sent his team out on to the rain soaked field looking to continue a two-game winning streak. With storms moving in and out of the area all weekend, Isom said it was vital to get Friday's game in while his team was focused.
"I know that we had weather, and weather possibly tomorrow, so we were worried about getting backed up and if lose tonight's game and we lose tomorrow night's game, then we have to make it up at their place," Isom said. "But yeah, there was concern. I don't like having that down time because guys are focused on that 7 o'clock start, we had just finished up, or we almost finished up, batting practice so we pretty much work day in."
"Any time you've got a long lay over it's a concern. I told our guys at the 'hey, we've got to come out there with more energy than the other team and put pressure on them and take advantage and score first,' and they responded."
Pitcher Matt Smith made a big jump for the Crushers with his first start after coming out of the bull pen. Smith answered the call with a quality start for the team going six innings, giving up no runs on five hits.
Smith had started for the Crushers last season, but said he would try to do too much as the game went on and mistakes would happen.
"It felt good to finally work up a little bit, before I think I was going one or two innings at a time, I might have been pressing a little bit," Smith said. "So I think once the second or third inning rolled around I was able to set in and build my arm up a little bit."
Smith got run support early on with the Crushers scoring at least one run in each of the second through fifth inning. As Smith put it, run support is a two way street to boost a pitcher's confidence.
"I told a guy today that it works both ways, throw a couple scoreless innings and it makes them want to swing the bat more," Smith said. "Same thing with me. They're swinging the bat well so it's my job to put up zeros."
With his performance, Smith's biggest fan was his manager.
"Outstanding job. We talked in the offseason about him being a starter, he came in a little late and we kind of had to get things line up and extended out and we needed help in the closing spot but finally we said we need to do something with him," Isom said. "So we ended up gave him a start here, we decided that a couple nights ago, and boy he took advantage of it and did an outstanding job. He led the way for us tonight, he's going to set the tones for the game and he did a very good job and kept them off the board early and gave us a chance to get the lead."
Offensively, Lake Erie looks like a completely different team from the first week. With a league high .285 batting average, the Crushers were near the bottom in the RBI column.
Now, the Crushers are inching their way up as a team in runs after posting 26 runs in this three game winning streak.
"It's amazing after we talked for the first 10 days, we talked about 'hey we've got to do something about this two out hitting and take advantage of mistakes, put pressure on the defense,' and that's what the guys are doing," Isom said. "[Tonight] we had multiple opportunities and we took advantage of those and if we're going to be a good team, we're going to have to do that and guys are doing that now. Not relying on one certain guy, it's everybody in the lineup right now is contributing."
The Crushers were led offensively by Emmanuel Quilles who knocked in a two RBI double and Daniel Bowmanwith an RBI triple.