Slammers slam Crushers 9-5
Joliet's bats proved to be too powerful as the Slammers jumped on Lake Erie (6-9) early and never looked back on their way to a 9-5 win Sunday and a series victory.
Lake Erie starter Matt Rein (1-2) was in for a rude welcoming as he wasn't even able to make it to the third inning.
"As well as Matt Rein has pitched all season long, today wasn't his day by any means," manager Jeff Isom said. "He would get ahead of hitters and just left that breaking ball over the middle of the plate and I think a majority of his hits were off his breaking ball, which is uncommon for him."
In the first, Joliet pounced on Rein after a couple of hits and an error. The Slammers' David Christensen broke open the game by punishing a ball Rein left over the heart of the plate by sending it into a low orbit over the left field wall.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Crushers were able to answer on an RBI single by Russell Moldenhauer and RBI double by Daniel Bowman.
But from there, it was all Joliet with the stick scoring runs in every inning but the fifth, sixth and ninth.
"Unfortunately we bring in a bull pen that can't stop the bleeding, we just kept leaking run after run, then we'd make a little bit of a come back and we just couldn't put up enough zeros to give us a chance," Isom said. "We made it interesting at the end, but as for the pitching, we just have to put up zeros."
Shortly after being taken off the disabled list, Devyn Rivera came in to relieve Rein only to struggle a bit, then prove to be one of the lone signs of encouragement for Isom on the day.
"That was a shining part of today, I did like that outing by [Rivera]," Isom said. "He threw up a couple innings where he went 1-2-3, which, in this young season, we haven't had a whole lot of innings where we went 1-2-3. So I did like the way he threw, I thought he did a very good job and that was encouraging to see that."
Offensively, the Crushers did have a chance to come back in this one in the sixth inning. After grouping together for a couple more runs in the fourth and fifth, Lake Erie got the bases loaded in the sixth trailing 7-5 with just one out and the team's two best hitters, Moldenhauer and Andrew Davis, coming up to the plate.
Subsequently the sixth ended in just a couple of pitches by new relief pitcher for the Slammers Lucas Goodgion, striking out Moldenhauer and getting Davis to pop out in foul territory.
"That was frustrating just because we battled back right there in that situation, we felt like we had them on the ropes and we," Isom said. "That was kind of the backbreaker right there, I thought if we would have gotten those runs in that situation, it could have been a much different story today."
So far this year, Lake Erie's season has been a roller coaster ride with highs in pitching, followed by lows. One day the team puts on a hitting clinic, the next day a shut out.
Isom said he believes consistency has been the Crushers' biggest opponent this season.
"We strung at some pitches out of the zone today, we've got to do a better job of getting pitches in the zone and when you do get in the zone, stay on those," Isom said. "We have a tendency to pull off a little bit. Guys are trying to do too much again, which is what we saw early in the year."
"We still feel like we have the offensive guys that we need to have success and just a matter of getting everything pieced together where we're pitching and hitting at the same time."
Lake Erie will head to Traverse City next then Washington for a six game road trip.