Granger's walk-off takes Crushers past Miners 3-2
Lake Erie wins despite marathon game the night before
For some reason, even after Tuesday's 17-inning marathon, the Miners hadn't had enough of their stay at All Pro Freight Stadium.
Seth Granger, meanwhile, was tired of hosting them. He sent them packing with a walk-off, RBI single to left-center field.
"Definitely didn't want to play any more extra innings," he said. "It was a grind for sure. Get home, go to sleep two o'clock, wake up, be back here at 9:30. You got to stay mentally focused and ready to go."
Granger's two-out hit brought home Wes Meadows, who pinch-hit for David Roney to start the ninth. Meadows' leadoff single was the first of his professional career. The walk-off gave the Crushers a 3-2 victory, pulling them to within a game of third place in the East, behind the very Miners team they just took two of three from.
"Once we got the leadoff hit with Wes I had a good feeling. I knew [the pitcher] was gonna have to come with something for a strike. I just wanted to make sure it was a good pitch to hit and get after it," Granger said.
The Crushers and Miners were playing on short rest. They had just ten hours between Tuesday night's game and Wednesday morning's. Nonetheless, the Crushers at least, were ready to go.
"They knew what the task at hand was. After last night's game, there was a shot of adrenaline for them. They came out ready to play today," manager Jeff Isom said.
Granger started the season as a reserve outfielder, but has worked his way in the starting lineup and number two hole by continually impressing Isom.
"It's a lot of work that he's put in," Isom said. "We made a decision that he needs to be in the lineup every day, and it's paying off right now. Awesome job by him. He's worked his way to the top of that lineup."
Runs came at a premium for both teams because both starters were able to work deep into the game with success. They needed to so that the bullpens could be spared after pitching a combined 24.2 innings in Tuesday's game. Neither team had many options left if this game had also went to extra innings.
"Does that count me?" Isom asked jokingly in response to how many pitchers he had left to use. Michael Jahns was the only pitcher left and available for the Crushers.
Matt Smith was brilliant for the Crushers. He pitched five innings, giving up one run on five hits. He also walked five batters, but was able to work his way out of trouble throughout. Blake Nation, a nominee for best name in the Frontier League, pitched a strong six innings for the Miners. He gave up two runs, just one earned, on five hits.
"We knew we were gonna have to extend Matt Smith out," Isom said. "It was an outstanding effort on his part. He did a very nice job for us today, exactly what we needed.
In relief of Matt Smith, Brandon Smith made his professional debut for the Crushers. He pitched a scoreless eight to set things up for Dickerson in the ninth. Isom liked what he saw of the rookie reliever.
"At the end of the game I told him, 'that's how you end up getting innings. Get in pressure situations, and get the job done,'" Isom said.
Dickerson came on for the ninth trying to earn his 11th save on the year. He cruised through the first two hitters, but allowed a two-out walk to keep the Miners alive.
After Jon Eisen drew the pinch-hit walk for the Miners, he stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Roney. He would score on Jason Ganek's pinch-hit, RBI single to tie the game. Despite the blown save, Granger's single awarded Dickerson with the win, and while he is down on himself, the team doesn't doubt its closer for a second.
"He pitched well the first two hitters," Isom said. "We have all the confidence in the world with Dale. Obviously he doesn't want to get in that situation with the bullpen thin, but absolutely, we have all the confidence in the world with him.
"It just shows you, this club is made up of guys where if one guy isn't getting the job done someone else is gonna find a way to pick up where he left off. It's a great group of guys in here."
The Crushers scored first in the top of the fourth inning, when Kevin Berard hit a two-out, RBI single to right to bring home Andrew Davis and make it 1-0. The Crushers are now 19-4 when they score the first run of the game.
Davis was 2-for-3 on the day, and 6-for-9 in the two victories. He is heating up at the plate, which is a welcome sign for Isom.
"He's out of his funk and swinging the bat well. There are guys at the top of the order getting the job done for us," Isom said.
The Miners answered quickly, however. Former Crusher Jereme Milons drove home the tying run in the top of the fifth with a two-out, RBI single. The Crushers reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the sixth on a Juan Sanchez RBI single. Sanchez only has two hits in his last 10 at bats, but both have been RBI hits.
The Crushers look to continue their winning ways when they welcome in the River City Rascals for a three-game series Thursday through Saturday. Dave Middendorf will be on the mound looking to build on his 7-5 record. It will be his second start since the All-Star break.