Those keys were all evident as Lake Erie continued on its positive roll with a 4-1 victory over Frontier on Saturday night in front of 2,380 at All-Pro Freight Stadium.
The Crushers won for the third time in a row over the Greys to climb two games over the .500 threshold. They’ll try to complete the sweep tonight at 5:05 before the four-day All-Star break.
“We’ll take what’s given to us,” said Crushers manager Jeff Isom. “We had opportunities to run the bases and fortunately we’ve got baserunners to be able to do that. We took advantage of what was given to us. We took those bases.”
Lake Erie stole six bases in the first three innings and took advantage of a couple throwing errors in giving starting pitcher Matt Rein a four-run cushion.
Clutch hits by Seth Granger and Anderson Hidalgo helped push across a pair of runs in both the second and third innings and the Crushers turned a pair of double plays to thwart would-be Greys rallies in both the second and sixth innings.
“Couple double plays when we needed them,” said Rein, who won his fifth game of the year and reduced his ERA to a sparkling 1.93. “I’m happy about it. The Greys can hit the ball a little bit. You give them baserunners. they’re going to find a way to score runs. I just tried to keep them off the bases. Don’t let them get anything started.”
Andrew Davis got things started in the second inning with a single up the middle and after two outs, stole second base — just his fourth of the year. Granger drove him in with a hit and moved to second on the throw home before stealing third and scoring on catcher Chris Kay’s wild throw to third.
In the third inning, Craig Hertler led off with a single and stole second. He advanced to third on a ground out. Daniel Bowman reached when he was hit by a pitch and the Crushers pulled the old first-and third double steal scoring Hertler. Hidalgo drove in Bowman with a single to center.
That was all Rein needed as he scattered seven hits and walked only three. He was backed by his bullpen. Jordan Wellander bailed him out of a tough situation in the eighth inning, and Dale Dickerson pitched a one-two-three ninth for his ninth save.
With one out in the eighth and two men on, Wellander induced a pair of ground balls and even though the first one produced a run on Hidalgo’s throwing error, the Greys were unable to score again.
“I’m comfortable turning it over to the bullpen,” said Rein. “Once I’m in the dugout, I’m confident we’re going to get those outs.”
It’s with mixed emotions that the Crushers go into the break following today’s game.
Lake Erie has won nine of its last 12 games to pull within four games of first place Traverse City in the East Division of the Frontier League.
“We’re playing well, there’s no question about it,” Isom said. “It’s all capped off by our pitching staff. Our pitching’s been excellent the last three weeks or so. I’m very excited what our pitching staff brings to the table every night.”
“Especially going into this break,” said Rein. “We feel like we’re playing pretty good. Hopefully everyone can get rested up — whoever has some bumps and bruises can get those healed — and we can continue to play good ball.”