Crushers rebound late, top CornBelters 4-3
Quiles, Lake County come from behind for victory
As the Crushers hitters continue to gain more confidence, they’re starting to get a sense that no matter the score, they’re never out of a game. That’s something that couldn’t be said just a week ago, as the offense was still stuck in its early season funk, but it was certainly true today.
The Crushers trailed 3-0 in entering the bottom of the seventh, but fought their way back to win 4-3 in ten innings behind catcher Emmanuel Quiles, who delivered the game tying hit in the bottom of the eighth and the game-winning, walk-off single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th. Mickey Jannis earned the win for the Crushers after pitching a scoreless top of the tenth. CornBelters pitcher Mitch Mormann was charged with the loss.
“I looked for one pitch,” Quiles said. “I know he’s gonna throw a breaking ball, bases loaded, one out. He doesn’t want to throw me a fastball. I see him throw me a breaking ball and I put a good swing on it.”
Quiles went 3-for-5 on the night with two RBI, improving on his batting average of .315 and upping his RBI total to 13. After the game-winning hit, he celebrated by making deer antlers over his head with his hands, which is something he said his teammate, Anderson Hidalgo, told him to do in celebration.
“He’s doing that all the time,” Quiles said of Hidalgo. “He told me in the dugout, ‘if you get a base hit and it’s the winning run, you can do something fun.’”
“Things have turned around for [Quiles],” manager Jeff Isom said. “It’s good to see him when he’s getting in RBI situations driving in those runs, and especially when the games on the line. He’s done a great job changing his approach, changing his mindset. If there’s somebody that we want to get to the plate with the tying run at third base, he would be the one guy that I’d really like to have at the plate.”
Isom was pleased not only with Quiles, but the entire lineup because of the fight they showed despite trailing so deep into the game.
“That’s what happens when you start getting 12 hits a night,” he said. “Offensive teams, they’re not afraid to be down. They’re like, alright, keep it close so we can have a chance late. These guys like the late-inning heroics.”
Starter Matt Smith did enough to keep the Crushers within arms-length of the lead and got through six innings for the quality start, but he struggled to do so. His final line was three runs on seven hits, with four walks and a wild pitch. He struck out one batter.
“I always say out of 10 starts, a pitcher might have his best stuff two out of 10 starts. Then you’re gonna have two games that’s just awful,” Isom said. “I wouldn’t say by any means this was the top two starts out of 10, and I wouldn’t say it was the bottom two. It was one of those six in between where you do whatever you can to keep your team in the game. He did everything he possibly could to give us an opportunity, and I was very pleased with that.”
The CornBelters first touched up Smith in the fourth inning, thanks to a two-run home run for Patrick McKenna, his third in four plate appearances.
“Well he is [doing something right against our pitching staff], and that’s why I’m trying to make a trade and go get him,” Isom said jokingly. “Each team it seems like they at least have one good hitter, and he’s their guy. I love the guy.”
The CornBelters got their third and final run in the sixth inning on a solo home run off the bat of T.J Gavlik in what would be Smith’s final inning. After that, it was up the Crushers bullpen to keep them in the game, and the group answered the call. Doug Shields, Brad Duffy, and Mickey Jannis combined to pitch four innings of no-hit ball, striking out five and walking just two.
“Outstanding! That’s what I’m talking about right there,” Isom exclaimed. “We obviously want to cut down those walks, but if we’re gonna be a competing club we’ve got to get that bullpen throwing just what we had tonight. They just have to continue to get better every night.”
The Crushers finally broke through off of CornBelters starter Drew Provence in the seventh inning thanks to three straight hits from Moldenhauer, Bowman, and Quiles to open the inning. Moldenhauer, who doubled to lead off the sixth, scored on Bowman’s single, and Bowman came around to score on a bases-loaded walk from Max Casper.
Quiles then drove in Bowman on a single to center to tie the game in the eighth, and his single up the middle in the tenth brought home Kevin Berard, who pinch-ran for Hidalgo after he singled to start the inning.
“It’s fun. I like to have these close games and end up winning these,” Isom said.
One downside from the game was that Andrew Davis’ hitting streak ended at 18 games after he went 0-for-4 with a walk. He fouled a ball off his foot in the first inning, but home plate umpire Joe Harris called it a fair ball as it trickled down the first base line. Provence picked up the ball and stepped on first base for the out, to the dismay of Davis who never moved out of the batters’ box.
The Crushers have now won three in a row and look to earn their first sweep of the season against the CornBelters tomorrow night. Matt Rein will be on the hill, looking to improve on his 2-3 record, and 2.94 ERA.