October 22, 2014

Elyria
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Crushers’ losing streak reaches seven

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AVON — At least this one wasn’t a blowout.

The result, however, was the same for the Lake Erie Crushers.

Lake Erie’s losing streak has reached a franchise-worst seven in a row after Wednesday’s 9-7 loss to Traverse City in front of 2,885 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.

The Crushers took a lead for only the second time during the 0-6 homestand and battled back from deficits of 4-1, 6-4 and 9-6, and even had the potential game-winning run at the plate with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.

However, like everything else that has gone wrong during their 2-12 June, the “Freight Magic” couldn’t be found.

The seven-game losing streak exceeds the franchise’s previous longest losing streak, which lasted from July 25-30 last year.

“I never get excited about a loss,” Crushers manager John Massarelli said. “I get frustrated when I lose one in a row, let alone six in a row at home.

“They’ve got to turn the corner. There’s nowhere else to turn, really, but around the corner. They’ve just got to keep fighting. Hopefully, we can get things figured out on the road and get something going.”

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The seven runs are the most Lake Erie (7-17) has scored since an 11-7 loss at Normal on June 1. They nevertheless were outhit 15-7.

“We worked some counts and took advantage of some walks (six issues by the Beach Bums) and a couple mistakes on their part, which is how you score runs,” Massarelli said. “We need to do that more consistently, and get it done on the other side, which is on the mound pitching.”

Trailing 9-6 in the ninth, Jason Taylor led off with a walk against Bums closer Scott Mueller (five saves). The Crushers followed with singles by pinch-hitter Patrick Norris and Kyle Shaffer to score one run and had runners on first and second with nobody out frequent hero Andrew Davis coming to the plate.

Mueller, however, coaxed Davis into a foul popout to third, then struck out Scott Houin after falling behind 3-0 and got Chris Luick to ground out to third to end the game.

Massarelli’s lineup looked unconventional at best, with regular middle-of-the-order hitters Kellen Kulbacki and Taylor batting eighth and ninth, respectively, and rookie Adam Gliebe leading off.

The pregame rumor was the Crushers’ coaching staff literally pulled the lineup out of a hat as a way to try to get something going. Massarelli, however, shot that down.

“If it was at random, then how would Davis be hitting third,” he said. “I don’t buy into those crazy hoaxes.”
The Crushers pitchers had trouble keeping the Beach Bums off the board all night. They used five different pitchers and all five had their share of issues.

Starter Andrew Weeks had a four-run second inning that threatened to generate that “here it goes again” feeling. He was chased from the game in the sixth when he allowed two runs that broke a 4-4 tie.

Rookie Paul Daniels couldn’t even retire a batter in the seventh, and was charged with a run on two hits in zero innings, as well as his first loss of the season.

And, veteran closer Ruben Flores had his second bad outing in a row, giving up a solo home run to Chase Burch and another run after three consecutive singles in the top of the ninth. Those two runs gave the Bums some insurance that ended up making the difference in the game.

“None of them threw good enough for me,” Massarelli said. “(Chris) Allen threw OK (two innings of scoreless relief), but I wasn’t happy with any of their performances.”

Davis’ fourth home run of the season in the first inning gave the Crushers a rare lead. Joel Collins drove in two runs — both on sacrifice flies — and Kulbacki’s two-run single tied the game at 6 in the bottom of the sixth.

However, it was all for naught, and the swoon continues.

Roster shuffle

The Crushers released three players and signed two free-agent pitchers Tuesday.

Sent packing were recently acquired outfielder Felix Martinez and rookie pitchers Andrew Berger and Brad Mountain. Signed were veteran pitcher Jairo Cuevas and rookie Randy Sturgill.

Martinez was acquired from the Florence Freedom for future considerations last week, but quickly wore out his welcome after batting .182 (2-for-11) in three games.

Mountain, the Crushers’ 2011 first-round draft choice, went 0-0 with an 8.59 ERA in five appearances. Berger went 0-0 with a 4.66 ERA in seven appearances, and held opposing hitters to a .189 average.

Sturgill, a lefty, recently graduated from California (Pa.), where he was a contender for the Tino Martinez Award, given to the best player in Division II. He went 10-2 with a team-best 2.23 ERA for the Vulcans in the spring. He will be used out of the bullpen, Massarelli said.

The Dominican-born Cuevas was, at one point, on the 40-man roster for both the Braves and the Royals, having spent six seasons in all with the two organizations. He is 26-39 with a 4.29 ERA. According to Massarelli, Cuevas will be in the starting rotation.

(bullet) The Cleveland Indians purchased the contract of Rockford RiverHawks pitcher Drew Rucinski on Wednesday. Rucinski only had one start for Rockford, going 0-1 with a 31.50 ERA, allowing nine hits and seven runs (all earned) in just two innings.

Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com.