Crushers pick up Game Two win, even playoff series at 1-1
Lake Erie got a much needed win Sunday night at home to even up the East division playoff win at a win each with a 5-1 victory over Traverse City.
After struggling with both pitching and hitting in Saturday night's loss, manager Jeff Isom worked with his team to right the ship for a much improved win.
The Crushers got a stellar performance from starter Matt Rein, who gave Lake Erie 6.1 innings of work and retired 15 of 17 batters he faced. Rein had a no hitter through five innings to impress his manager.
“(Rein) always talks about being a big-game pitcher, and being down 1-0 in a playoff series is about the toughest stage you’re going to find,” Isom said. “It was an outstanding effort from him tonight.”
Rein's no-hit bid was broken up in the sixth inning by a solo home run by Marcus Nidiffer. Rein struggled through the sixth inning by loading up the bases, but worked his way out of the inning to contain the Beach Bums to just one run.
After a disappointing showing the night before, the Lake Erie bullpen, highlighted by Jordan Wellander's strong showing, was locked down to preserve the win for Rein.
Offensively, the Crushers got a big performance from one of the most unlikely sources. Second basemen Max Casper, who has struggled mightily at the plate recently, supplied the Crushers with runs and base runners as he had a 4-for-4 night while knocking in a pair of runs in Lake Erie's big fourth inning.
"Max stays in the lineup every day because of his defense,” Isom said. “Whatever we get from him offensively is a bonus. Tonight he took care of his business with four hits and those RBIs. That was really huge for us.”
Daniel Bowman also posed a huge ball game at the plate as he finished a home run short of the cycle with a 3-for-4 performance including a triple to leadoff the fourth inning.
Controlling the game with the lead, Lake Erie was able to round out the series at home with the split. Isom said he planed to manage his bullpen arms to keep them fresh for the next two games at Traverse City.
"Anytime we can keep those arms fresh; it's going to help us out," Isom said. "Wellander's got to be ready Tuesday. We're going to ride the hot arm. The way he's throwing; we want him back out on the mound."
The Crushers will have a travel day on Monday to Traverse City with Alex Kaminsky set to start for Lake Erie.