Crushers start second half with 3-2 road win
The Lake Erie Crushers picked right back up where they left off before the all star break with a 3-2 road victory over first place Gateway on Friday.
Tied up at 1-1 in the top of the ninth, the Crushers got clutch at-bats by Max Casper and Seth Granger to grab a 3-1 lead as the pitching held on for dear life.
"We got some key hitting with that double by [Emmanuel] Quiles, a big hit by Casper followed by Granger," manager Jeff Isom said. "That well needed by the bottom part of our lineup and then also the top with Granger."
Then in the bottom of the ninth is when things got a little sticky for the Crushers. Like he has for most of the year, Isom sent closer Dale Dickerson in to shut the door with a chance to earn his ninth save of the year.
Pitching just .1 of an inning, Dickerson let up three hits, a walk and an earned run that put the Crushers up just 3-2 with the bases loaded and one out.
"Dale's done a nice job for us all year long since we've put him in that closing role, sometimes you just run into a game where you just don't have your best stuff and tonight was one of those nights," Isom said. "Dale's a guy that has to have a baseball in his hands everyday and those four days off, I think, took away from him a little bit and his routine. We'll be plugging him back in there tomorrow if we have to."
For the final two outs of the game, Isom turned to Jordan Wellander who has been very efficient of late. Working quickly, Wellander got his first batter to pop out then forced a slow dribbler to first that was fielded by Russell Moldenhauer for the final out.
"It's a big win, our guys were excited after the game, they knew this was a big series, they knew what Gateway's been doing all year," Isom said. "Literally getting off the bus and going out there and playing and having a performance like that was big for us. A lot of that was on [starter] Matt Smith's shoulders, he ended up going six innings for us and allowing one run, so he set the tone for the game."
As part two of the season starts, the Crushers still have all of their team goals still in tact as the team is now just four games out of first place and a half game out of the playoffs in the eastern division. At 27-25, at almost .500, Isom said he is treating the second half of the year almost like a new season.
"We ended the first half very well, so I know guys were anxious to get the second half going right now, so we're just going and building off the success at the end of our first half there," Isom said. "Guys mentioned that at the end of the game, after it was over, like 'all right, here we go. Here's to the rest of our season,' so yeah, those four days off we nice for guys to recharge their batteries, I like the effort level and the energy on and off the field."
Lake Erie has game two of the series Saturday with first pitch at 7:05.