Granger's walk off hit gives Crushers 2-1 win
Lake Erie beats Gateway 2-1 in 12 innings
Rookie Seth Granger (Grawn-Jay) picked the perfect time to get his first professional hit in the bottom of the 12th inning for a walk-off victory over Gateway Saturday night in Avon.
Pulling a ball that was misplayed by Gateway's Jon Myer, Lake Erie's Daniel Bowman, who had doubled earlier in the inning, put on the jets while rounding third and crossed home plate for a 2-1 Crushers victory.
Covered in shaving cream, a jubilant Granger was a bit more excited than his teammates to collect his first hit and earn the team's first win of the season.
"It feels great, couldn't picture it any better than that," Granger said. "Personally, it means a lot, it's something I'll always remember and I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to experience it with."
But to even get to the bottom of the 12th to win it, the Crushers needed the help of some outstanding pitching and great fielding.
"We tried to do it in nine, ended up getting a couple base runners in the eighth and ninth and a leadoff base hit finally ended up scoring," manager Jeff Isom said. "Defensively, guys did a great job. We threw a guy out at the plate that would have been the go ahead run and we had plenty of opportunities late and we finally cashed in there late with Granger."
The Crushers bats continued to produce hits, but yielded little run production. Third baseman Andrew Davis batted in the only Crushers' run in regular innings on a sacrifice fly in the third inning.
After that, it was up to the Crushers' pitching to keep the team in the game.
Matt Rein pitched a near perfect outing going seven strong innings and allowing only four hits. Rein's dominating performance comes as no surprise to Isom who said he will be a guy the team can rely on.
"[Rein] is kind of like a left-handed Greg Maddux-type guy, he's going to locate a fastball, throw three pitches for strikes," Isom said. "He kept them off-balanced all night, it was an outstanding effort on his part. I'm very happy with the performance he put out there."
More importantly, the Crushers walked only one batter all night, which is something Isom has been preaching to his pitching staff.
After Rein was taken out in the seventh inning after 92 pitches and eight strikeouts, Matt Smith came out of the bullpen for a six-out save chance. Smith struggled in the eighth, but worked out of a jam with two men on.
Then in the ninth, Smith returned to the mound, but this time could not work his way out of trouble and gave up a run to Gateway's Jet Butler.
In extra innings, the Crushers worked out of two separate situations with runners in scoring positions.
"Pitching on both sides pitched out of some jams and yeah, I was happy with our pitching," Isom said. "They did a nice job when they had to get outs."
Once again the Achilles' heel for the Crushers early on was converting with runners on base. Lake Erie left 16 runners on, but only scored two runs.
Isom credits the poor conversion rate to guys trying to do too much early on.
"Guys are trying to do too much right now, as the season goes on they relax in those situations," Isom said. "As a team we've had plenty of opportunities but, as I've said, the guys will relax at the plate a little bit more and try not to do too much. Right now they're so anxious and they're trying to get that run in and you've just got to let the game come to you."