Rein's dominant outing leads Crushers past Greys, 4-1
After Greys starting pitcher Joe Zeller struck out Craig Hertler for the first out of the game, Greys catcher Chris Kay was so excited that he accidentally spiked the ball into the ground in front of him trying to throw down to third.
It was bad, just like the Greys now 18-32 record. But the Crushers did exactly what has to be done when playing against last place teams. They beat the Greys 4-1 behind a dominant starting pitching performance from Matt Rein. Rein went seven and one-third innings, giving up just one run on seven hits in addition to three walks and four strikeouts. The win for the Crushers was their third straight, and they improved to a season high two games over .500 at 26-24.
“We’re playing well,” Manager Jeff Isom said. “There’s no question about it.”
Rein, who earned the victory to improve to 5-4, has pitched so well of late that seven hits allowed almost made it seemed as if he underperformed. Isom agreed that Rein didn’t have his best stuff, but said that if not having his best stuff means seven plus innings without allowing an earned run, then he’ll take it.
“You’re not always gonna go out there with your best stuff every night,” Isom said. “I like to evaluate guys when they don’t have their best stuff and see what you’re made of. He actually had to pitch tonight and make some quality pitches when he needed to. It was an excellent job by him not having his best stuff and going out and competing. Shows you what he’s made of.”
Once again, Rein had the comfort of pitching with an early lead, as the Crushers offense spotted him four runs before the fourth inning. Andrew Davis led off the second inning with a single, stole second, and scored on Seth Granger’s RBI double. Granger proceeded to steal third, and he scored on Kay’s throwing error to make it 2-0. Kay also had an error in the first inning trying to throw out Max Casper who stole second.
Kay never appeared comfortable combating the Crushers base running aggressiveness, and the run game proved to be the difference. The Crushers accumulated six stolen bases. Craig Hertler led the team with two, and Casper, Bowman, Davis, and Granger all had one.
“The catcher’s percentage throwing guys out isn’t real high, but more than that we were taking advantage of the pitcher. The pitcher was slow to the plate; he threw a knuckleball. The catcher has got to worry about catching that knuckleball before he can throw anybody out. It was a combination of the pitcher and catcher,” Isom said.
Two of the stolen bases came in the fourth inning, when Hertler and Bowman combined for a double steal, as Bowman took second, and Hertler scampered home to push the Crushers lead to 3-0. The Crushers added their final run when Anderson Hidalgo singled home Bowman.
The only other excitement provided by the Crushers’ offense would come in the seventh, when Seth Granger led off the inning with a line shot that got past the diving Greys centerfielder, Alvaro Ramirez. Granger had an easy triple, and Isom waved him around to try for the inside the park home run. Unfortunately, a good throw to the cutoff man, and a strong relay cut down Granger at the plate.
“I should have held him up,” Isom said. “You get caught up in the moment, the crowd’s going crazy. So that one was on me, but you know what the heck, you don’t get inside the parkers too often.”
Aside from the Granger triple, the Crushers had only one other hit after the third inning. Zeller recovered from his shaky start to keep his team in the game, but the Greys offense could only muster one run.
It came in an inning when the Crushers allowed the Greys two extra outs. Hidalgo had two throwing errors in the inning, and a single and three fielder’s choices brought home a run for the Greys. Rein only got one out in the inning, and even though he would have liked the opportunity to finish the job, he wasn’t worried when Jordan Wellander came on to get out of the jam for him.
“I’m comfortable turning it over to the bullpen,” Rein said. “They’re lights out. It’s one of those things where I’ll pitch every game every inning, but once I’m in that dugout I’m confident we’re gonna get those outs.”
Dale Dickerson slammed the door in the ninth for his ninth save. The Crushers have now taken the first three games from the Greys and will go for the four-game sweep on Sunday behind Alex Kamminsky, who looks to improve on his 4-4 record before the all-star break.