Crushers win fifth straight in extra innings, 3-1
Lake Erie (15-16) won its fifth straight ball game Friday in extra innings fueled by clutch hitting and even better pitching with a 3-1 victory over Schaumburg.
Starter Alex Kaminsky allowed no earned runs in six innings of work and giving up just five hits, but error by left fielder Ricardo Lizcano got the Boomers on the board in the six. Lizcano would redeem himself, though, in the eighth inning with a leadoff double and eventually scoring the game tying run on a Juan Sanchez single.
Both teams stayed gridlocked until the top of the 12th when veteran Andrew Davis cranked a solo shot to give the Crushers a 2-1 lead. Catcher David Roney added some insurance a few batters later with an RBI single that knocked in Russell Moldenhauer.
"It was a big at bat," manager Jeff Isom said. "I think [Davis] was hitless the last two nights and that last at bat he was hitless again and they had a lefty pitcher so he ended up getting on the right side and a little bit different look for him and he ended up getting a 3-1 pitch to take advantage of that for a pitch he could hit out."
Runs are obviously great and needed for a win, but the real story in Illinois was the outstanding pitching efforts by Kaminsky and the Crushers bullpen.
Kaminsky was shutdown before the seventh for reliever Ben Klafczynski, who has been untouchable since coming back to the team as a pitcher. Klafczynski worked an inning of scoreless and hitless game, then handed the ball over to Jordan Wellander, who has struggled of late.
In an inning of work, Wellander gave up just one hit to round out the eighth inning. For the ninth inning, manager Jeff Isom turned to another guy who has been silencing batters in Mickey Jannis.
Jannis worked a near perfect three innings of work giving up no hits and striking out four. Under Jannis' belt, the Crushers took the lead putting him in line for the win after Dale Dickerson's fourth save of the year.
"It was just an outstanding job by all of our pitchers tonight that were in that game," Isom said. "Kaminsky started off the game very well and he gave up an unearned run and the bullpen came in and pitched six innings and only gave up one hit."
One of the strangest stories to come out of Lake Erie this summer, if not the strangest, is the trade for and play of Jannis.
Early in the season, Jannis was traded out of the league for a player to be named later. The eventual player to be named later was none other than Jannis.
Since coming back to the team Jannis has been unstoppable on the mound. In 9.1 innings of work, Jannis is 2-0 in four appearances with a 0.00 ERA and has given up just four hits.
Lake Erie added Jannis back on June 11 along with another ex-Crusher Klafczynski. Since coming back to the team as a pitcher, originally an outfielder with the team, Klafczynski has given up one hit and no runs in 3.1 innings pitched.
After a couple of additions to the bullpen failed for the team, Isom said he is loving the help he is getting from both players.
"Well it's really helped us out with that bullpen, we were looking for some go-to guys and once we picked up those two guys and shifted some roles around it took pressure off those guys," Isom said. "We know what we're going to get from Jannis every time out and he has done an outstanding job for us this whole time and then Klafczynski, he can come in and get some big outs for us."
"Just adding those two guys, you are going to change the mindset of the bullpen a bit and get a lot more production from them."
Lake Erie will look to continue its winning ways Saturday night with a 7:05 first pitch in Schaumburg. The Crushers are now 5.5 games out of first place in the east.