September 22, 2014

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Slammers slam Crushers again

Jodam Rivera beats out a bunt by diving into first yesterday. No. 39 is Joliet Slammer Tommy Mendoza. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

Jodam Rivera beats out a bunt by diving into first yesterday. No. 39 is Joliet Slammer Tommy Mendoza. (CT photo by Chuck Humel.)

AVON — The good news for the Crushers on Thursday night? At least they didn’t get no-hit.

The bad news? The result was the same as Wednesday night when they did get no-hit.

The East Division-leading Joliet Slammers belted four home runs — for a total of eight in two games — off Crushers starter Paul Fagan and reliever Kelyn Schellenberg en route to an 8-2 win in front of 1,913 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.

The crowd included special guests Asdrubal Cabrera and Joe Tait.

The Slammers (35-26) have outscored the Crushers 18-3 in the first two games of the series. Game 3 is tonight at 7:05.

“I thought that was as well as I’ve seen Fagan pitch for us this season,” Crushers manager John Massarelli said after his team dropped to 28-33 with its third straight loss. “Three bad pitches led to six runs, really. That’s the story of the game.

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“That’s baseball, I guess. We made some mistakes and they capitalized on them. Other than that, I thought our pitching was pretty good.”

Fagan (4-8) cruised through the first three innings, holding the Slammers, who lead the Crushers by 61⁄2 games in the East Division, to one hit.

He ran into some rough seas in both the fourth and fifth innings, however.

With two outs and runners on first and third, Kyle Maunus slammed an 0-2 pitch onto the grassy knoll beyond the left-field wall for a three-run home run — his 12th of the season — to give the Slammers a 3-0 lead.

In the fifth, No. 9 hitter Bobby Leeper led off with a deep home run down the left-field line (his sixth) to make it 4-0.

Following two strikeouts, Fagan walked Hector Pellot before All-Star MVP Erik Lis — the nephew of former Indian Joe Lis — slammed the first pitch he saw over the wall in right-center for his 13th homer of the season.

Leeper, Lis and Maunus all homered for the second straight night.

“The effort’s there,” Massarelli said. “We’ve just got to start capitalizing on our opportunities.”

Fagan struck out the side in the first inning and finished with seven and one walk in five innings. Of the five hits he gave up, three were home runs.

The Crushers, meanwhile, snapped an 11-inning hitless skid in the third when Patrick Norris beat out an infield single. Jodam Rivera had a bunt single to lead off the fourth. Both hits went for naught, however.

Jason Taylor led off with fifth with a ground-rule double off Tommy Mendoza (3-1), who then struck out Evan Sharpley and coaxed Norris and rookie catcher Brian Erie to hit into putouts to derail the threat.

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Finally, with two outs in the seventh, the Crushers put something together. Taylor ripped his second-straight double and Sharpley followed by slamming the first pitch over the right-field wall for a two-run home run, making it 6-2.

The home run was Sharpley’s first as a Crusher and his third of the season after hitting two with Traverse City. It got out in a hurry, too.

“He’s got some pop in his bat, there’s no doubt,” Massarelli said. “That’s why we brought him here, so it was good to see.”

Schellenberg had tossed three scoreless innings of relief before allowing one-out, two-run home run to Josh Flores in the ninth.

“Schellenberg picked us up tonight,” Massarelli said. “Our bullpen was tired from the Washington series, so he helped us out with four good innings.”

Mendoza allowed five hits, one walk and struck out six in seven solid innings. Relievers Billy Petrick and Jeremy Tietze combined for two innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.

Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com. Log on to www.chroniclet.com/freebees for a weekly chance to win free Crushers tickets.