Crushers sweep Traverse City with 4-3 win
For just the third time this season, Lake Erie swept an opponent, but none bigger than a sweep of first place Traverse City completed Monday night in Avon.
Coming out on top for a 4-3 win over the Beach Bums, the Crushers have turned the entire East division around in just one week. Going from a couple of games over .500, the Crushers have won seven of their last 10 to fall just a game and a half behind first place Traverse City and a half game behind Southern Illinois for the final playoff spot.
"Our goal is to go out and continue to win series and third game right there, that was a big one and we ended up getting the sweep," manager Jeff Isom said. "We got to just continue what we've been doing, play defense, get good hitting and come up with that timely hitting."
Lake Erie wasted no time to pounce on the Beach Bums with the first three hitters for the Crushers coming up with hits. Started with outfielder Seth Granger's RBI double, the Crushers attacked for two runs in the bottom of the first to get Starter Alex Kaminsky a lead, despite a rocky start.
Getting help behind him from his defense behind him, the indisputable play of the game was made by left fielder Kevin Berard who robbed Traverse City's Andrew Heck of a home run with a spectacular grab over the wall.
"He got a great jump on it, I think he ended up having to make a correction, ended up spinning around, got his head around and saw where it was," Isom said. "He's very athletic. He went and found the wall right away and knew where he had to be and made an outstanding catch."
Kaminsky's day was far from his best, Isom said after the game, but the veteran worked through his problems to keep the Crushers in the game. After walking four batters and letting in a pair of runs, including a balk with a man on third, Kaminsky took a line drive to the leg and had to be carted off the field in the fourth.
No medical report was issued after the game, but Kaminsky was up and walking around the team's facilities after the game.
"His start, it wasn't his best performance by any means, I told the guys that if you don't have your best stuff, go out and find a way to compete," Isom said. "Even with out his best stuff, far from his best stuff, he still gave us that opportunity to go out there and win the ball game."
The man of the hour around the Crushers' clubhouse was reliever Brandon Smith who celebrated his first professional winMonday in two innings of perfect relief.
"Obviously what Brandon Smith did, I mean that was impressive to go out there and I think that's his third professional outing, get his first win and he continues to impress me," Isom said. "A combination of a starting pitcher that competed and then the bullpen, they came in and finished up that start."
While Kaminsky battled the Beach Bums, the top dog in the division gave the Crushers all the fight they had with runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Eventually tying up the ball game at three in the bottom of the fifth on an Andrew Davis sacrifice, the Crushers would strike late to take this one.
Becoming almost a nightly topic, Granger struck again big for his team a night after hitting his first professional home run. In the bottom of the seventh, Granger struck gold with his second double of the ball game to score the speedy Craig Hertler from first to put Lake Erie on top 4-3.
"We ended up getting that big hit by Granger there, that double and that was the leading run right there and he continues to swing a hot bat," Isom said.
For the top of the ninth, Isom called on his closer Dale Dickerson for the save. Dickerson had been having a rough series and had been skipped over the night before for a save chance.
"To Dickerson's credit, he went out there and worked his tail off to get what needed to be fix and made, mostly, one minor adjustment and it paid off," Isom said. "He's been getting in trouble with the walks and he ended up going out there and going right after them so that was great to see and ended up getting that big save to get us that sweep."
Lake Erie will head out to Florence for a three game series followed directly with a trip to Joliet to start a stretch of 12 games with no break.