AVON — All good streaks have to come to an end sometime.
Though the Southern Illinois Miners mustered only three hits off of a quartet of Crushers pitchers, they still eked out a 2-1 win over Lake Erie on Saturday night in front of 1,981 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The loss snapped the Crushers’ five-game winning streak and their seven-game home winning streak, while also keeping them from having a .500 record or better by the Frontier League All-Star break. The Crushers (25-22) are 12-14 at home with a game to go.
Miners ace David Harden (6-1) was the main culprit in spoiling all the Crushers’ fun, tossing a complete-game four-hitter.
“When the wind’s blowing in like it was, everything gets magnified,” Crushers manager John Massarelli said. “Those are real good pitching conditions tonight, and that was the difference.
“The main difference between their pitcher and ours is that we walked seven and he only walked one.”
Harden, an East Division All-Star selection, threw 111 pitches in his nine-inning effort. Two of the hits he allowed never left the infield, including one in the bottom of the ninth by Jason Taylor that got the old feeling of “Freight Magic” going.
However, Harden got Russell Moldenhauer to fly out into a stiff wind in deep right-center field for the second out, and coaxed a groundout to second by Andrew Davis to thwart the Crushers’ last-gasp effort.
“We had a chance to win,” Massarelli said. “Obviously on any other night, Mouldy’s ball lands on I-90. But what can you do? That’s just a part of the game.”
Harden was perfect through three and retired the first 10 batters before Robby Kuzdale, who had two hits, drilled a single to left in the bottom of the fourth. Harden still retired 15 of the first 17 batters he faced.
Adrian Ortiz led off by beating out a chopper that stayed fair down the first-base line. Kuzdale followed with a triple to right that scored Ortiz. When the relay throw to home from Miners second baseman Will Block sailed past the plate, Kuzdale dashed for home.
But on a bang-bang play, Harden’s throw to catcher Sean Coughlin was in time, and home plate ump Jim Schaly called Kuzdale out.
“I liked the decision by Kuz to be aggressive and go for it,” Massarelli said. “I like my teams to be aggressive and try to take advantage of potential mistakes. Yeah, I thought he was in there, but I don’t make that decision.”
Kuzdale, who went 2-for-4, believed he was safe as well.
“It was a tough call,” he said. “The umpire didn’t have a very good angle. What he said was that he blocked the dish. The ball beat me, but I beat the tag with my slide. I could see he was about to ring me up before I even got there.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
• WHO: Lake Erie Crushers vs. Southern Illinois Miners
• TIME: 5:05
• WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon
• RADIO: WEOL 930-AM