Moldenhauer powers Crushers to 6-5 win
Moldenhauer goes 3-for-3 and hits two home runs to lead Lake Erie
Russell Moldenhauer powered Lake Erie with two opposite field home runs and four RBIs as the Crushers earned back-to-back wins with a 6-5 win over Washington (Pennsylvania) on Friday to get back on track.
It was the game manager Jeff Isom needed, but with a one-man show, Moldenhauer got the Crushers an early lead, then got the lead back late in the ball game. Moldenhauer finished a perfect 3-for-3 on the night while acting as Lake Erie's go-to guy for the win.
"He's been a guy that's been hot and cold for us all season long for us, he started swing the bat a little bit better yesterday and then today, it's be big for him and his confidence," Isom said. "What he's done this year, compared to what he did last year, his batting practice was trying to be a pull guy and try to hit balls over that scoreboard at our stadium."
"This year, he's changed his approached. He's worked very hard on going the other way and it's nice to see all that hard work that he's put in start to show right now. He's hitting balls very hard opposite field and for him to be a successful hitter and to move on to the next level, he's going to have to show he can hit to all fields and he's doing it now."
Starter Matt Smith didn't deliver the dream start a team might want, but was solid enough on the bump to give the Crushers a chance in this one as he went 6 2/3 innings with all five runs earned and seven strike outs.
"[Smith] kept us in the ball game the whole time and obviously what Russell Moldenhauer did with the bat and other other guys as well, coming up big in situations," Isom said. "It was a well played game on our end and ended up getting those runs late so that was good coming from behind."
For the past few games, the Crushers' bullpen has been a question mark on the season with spotty performances by several players. But, Friday night's game showed what the club can expect with 2 1/3 scoreless innings and back-to-back saves by veteran Dale Dickerson.
Dickerson saved his second straight game with a solid two strikeout performance in one inning of work.
"We're starting to define roles, realizing what guys are capable of doing in positions where they can have success," Isom said. " It's getting better on our bullpen side and in our starting pitching, giving us a chance to win the past couple nights."
When it came down to it, the Crushers got the win the team needed in order to stay competitive early in the season. As far as Isom is concerned, any road win is a big win for the team's psyche as they look to be a playoff competitor.
"We've got to continue on with this success that we're having and we feel like, and I've said from the start, we've got the right pieces, it's just a matter of figuring out where they fit in and have some guys get some confidence," Isom said. "That's one thing that we didn't play a whole lot of is confidence, starting pitchers would be giving up runs early and we'd be playing from behind on a nightly basis and it's tough mentally."
Lake Erie will take on Washington again Saturday on game two of the three game set.