Kaminsky, Crushes fall in series finale 6-1
AVON - Lake Erie struggled to get runners across again on Sunday night in a 6-1 loss to Gateway to lose the opening weekend series.
Mustering up just four runs in three games, the Crushers bats were very much alive Sunday with seven hits, but a lack of run production again plagued the team. Manager Jeff Isom said he isn't worried about the lack of production, but hopes a change of scenery is just what the team needs.
"We need some production out of the middle of our order," Isom said. "Guys are pressing a little bit right now at the plate, trying to do a little bit too much. Sometimes going on the road is a good thing, getting away, getting together with the group and staying together in the hotel and playing on the road. [I'm] excited to get out on the road."
For the first time all series, pitching was a struggle for the Crushers as starter Alex Kaminsky gave up four earned runs in just five innings of work. Kaminsky, who was a member of the Grizzles last season, had only 52 strikes on 91 pitches while walking five.
The wheels really came off for Kaminsky in the fifth after the veteran got two quick outs, then walked a pair before giving up a three run home run to Gateway's Landon Hernandez.
"What impressed me with him was the first two innings he was at about 50 pitches, we had a conversation, he made some in game adjustments and he did very well other than he walked those guys in the fifth and gave up the home run on a pitch that he made a mistake," Isom said. "He was trying to get it on the outside half and left it down the middle. In this league, if you make a mistake, there are some good hitters that will make you pay."
On the night, the Crushers' pitching staff walked eight batters and plunked a Grizzly.
"We've had some success the first two nights with being efficient with our pitches and tonight, we weren't efficient," Isom said. "You do that and you're not giving yourself a chance to win."
But while the pitching saw better nights, it was the hitters that again were silenced by the Grizzles. This weekend alone Lake Erie left 29 base runners stranded with only four runs.
"I hope [the team starts producing] otherwise I'm going to start having more gray hair, I think I've added a bunch with these close games," Isom joked. "There's no question, guys like Andrew Davis [and Russell] Moldenhauer, I look at a .167 hitter and .091 hitter; that's not them. They're guys that can hit. They have talent. [They're] trying to impress, trying to do too much and it's just a matter of letting the game come to them."
What little production the Crushers did have was from the bottom of the order. Second baseman Max Casper in his professional debut got a single to right in his first career at bat with Lake Erie and later scored on a Ricardo Lizcano sacrifice fly.
In fact the bottom three of the Crushers' order; Juan Sanchez, Casper and Kevin Berard, accounted for five of Lake Erie's seven hits with Berard accounting for three hits in his second start of the season.
Isom said one of his goals this weekend was plugging in as many players as he could to see what his team was made of.
"[We're] still trying to define some holes here and we need to see what guys are capable of doing in the games," Isom said. "We've seen live pitching, we've seen them play defense in inter-squad and exhibition games, but once the lights turn on, you want to see what these guys are capable of doing."
The 2013 installment of the Crushers has been a very different group from years past ranging from new players to new traditions. Like, for instance, the team's decision to wear last year's alternate red jerseys as their home uniform.
Sunday saw yet another new tradition as everyone on the team came out in high socks in an effort to build team unity.
"They wanted to go with 'high socks Sunday' for each Sunday game, in fact, they've gotten together as a team," Isom said. "It's a great clubhouse, a great close group, and they decided they wanted to get striped socks like the St. Louis Cardinals have. We've got some of those on order so I think every Sunday we're going to go with the high socks, if we start winning.
"If not, we'll have them down," Isom joked.