With Daniel Bowman and Andrew Davis leading the way — each going 4-for-5 with a home run — Lake Erie won its eighth straight game by defeating the Washington Wild Things, 11-1.
Davis hit his team-leading 16th homer of the season in the first inning to give the Crushers a 2-0 lead. It was all the offense that Crushers starter Matt Smith needed.
Smith went seven innings, allowing a run on three hits, striking out six and improving his record to 5-3. He retired 16 of the last 17 batters he faced, allowing one two-out walk to Washington leadoff batter A.J. Nunziato in his final five innings.
Davis also drove in a pair of runs with an eighth-inning double to end the Lake Erie scoring. In between Davis’ big hits, it was the Bowman show. The Lake Erie right fielder got a hit in his last four at-bats, including a two-out, three-run home run in
the sixth inning that gave the Crushers a 9-1 lead.
“A lot of times two-out RBIs wind up winning ballgames,” said Bowman, who came into the game hitting .346 with two outs and runners in scoring position. “I want to do whatever I can to help the team win and I have been in the two-out situations a lot this season. I just look for a pitch I can handle and hopefully put a good swing on it.”
Lake Erie (47-31) scored nine runs with two outs. The Crushers have won 16 of their last 18 games and remain tied with Traverse City, who beat the Frontier Greys 6-2 on Thursday night, atop the Eastern Division standings. Both teams have 18 regular-season games remaining.
“It was a pretty good series for us. We want to go out and score runs and we did that,” Lake Erie manager Jeff Isom said. “When the team is playing well, the pressure is not there. The guys keep having good at-bats and the pitchers are doing what they are doing. When we showed we could hang with Traverse City during that series when we swept them here, we started to believe we were that team we thought we could be.”
Washington (35-42) got its only run in the second inning when Mark Samuelson belted his 10th home run of the year over the scoreboard in right field.
Brandon Smith came out of the bullpen to give the Crushers two innings of no-hit relief.
“The pitchers go out every night knowing there are runs that are going to be scored,” Isom said. “I was impressed with (Matt) Smith tonight. He was getting breaking balls over for strikes, something that he has to do to have continued success in this league. We were able to continue to rest our bullpen which is going to be critical going into the stretch run.”
Center fielder Craig Hertler drove in Kevin Berard with a well-executed squeeze bunt in the sixth inning. Hertler laid the bunt down between the pitcher’s mound and home plate, Wild Things reliever Jhonny Montoya charged in and attempted to scoop the ball forward to catcher Matt Mirabel, but Berard slid safely into home and Hertler reached first with a single.
In the eighth inning, Montoya hit Hertler on the elbow with a fastball, leading to both benches being warned by the umpire.
The teams complete the three-game series tonight at 7:05, with Alex Kaminsky taking the hill for Lake Erie against Washington’s Dayne Quist.