The Lake Erie Crushers moved to the top of the Eastern Division in the Frontier League on Friday night with a 5-1 win over the Frontier Greys in front of 3,757 fans on Pack the Park Pink Night, which raised money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
The Crushers’ ninth win in a row and 17th in their last 19 games, coupled with Traverse City’s 4-3 loss to Schaumberg, moved them one game up in the standings.
The Crushers and Beach Bums close the season with a three-game series at All Pro Freight Stadium the first week of September.
Lake Erie put the long ball to good use Friday, getting home runs from Russell Moldenhauer (10), Andrew Davis (17) and Anderson Hidalgo (three).
“I’ve been trying to have better at-bats here at the end of the year and I guess I’m kind of locked in right now, just like the rest of the team,” said Davis, who also tripled. “They say hitting is contagious and I think we’ve proven that the last 10 or 12 games.”
The Crushers were held without a hit for the first three innings by former Lake Erie hurler Jonathan Kountis (0-3) but still found a way to score first. That came about when Craig Hertler walked, stole second and came home on Daniel Bowman’s sacrifice fly.
The Greys scored their only run of the night off starting pitcher Alex Kaminsky (7-5) in the top of the second when Brock McCallister hit a ball down the left-field line and over the wall for his first homer of the year.
Kaminsky went 7⅓ innings, allowing just the one run while striking out three and walking two and lowering his ERA to 3.45.
Lake Erie scored one in the fourth despite a Moldenhauer single, a Davis triple, a walk, a stolen base and a hit batter. Davis scored the run on a wild pitch. A caught stealing short-circuited the inning.
The score stayed 2-1 until the Crushers started living up to their nickname with three solo homers.
Moldenhauer’s 10th of the season went out to right-center on the first pitch he saw from Kountis in the sixth.
The Crushers let another golden chance to score slip away in the seventh as backup catcher David Roney walked and eventually got to third before being cut down at the plate on a bizarre 1-2-1-3 double play when Bowman attempted a squeeze play.
Relief pitcher Jon Shepard threw home to get Roney at the plate. The catcher then threw the ball back to Shepard before everyone realized Bowman didn’t run to first. Shepard threw over to first to complete the unique double play to end the inning.
It mattered little, though, as Davis crushed a ball to the scoreboard in the eighth and Hidalgo followed two batters later with a majestic shot halfway up the hill in left field for the final runs of the game.
“Tonight was a case where we saw some pitches that were elevated in the zone and they put some good swings on them,” Crushers manager Jeff Isom said. “We don’t want to have to rely on them (home runs). … We’ll take the runs any way we can get them.
“We got into some trouble in the middle of the season trying to do too much at the plate. The home runs are nice, but we have to stay within ourselves throughout this stretch.”
Jason Wilson will take the mound tonight for the Crushers against Greys knuckleballer Joe Zeller at All Pro Freight Stadium. Game time is 7:05.
* Crushers players and coaches will continue their efforts to raise money today for the Susan G. Komen Foundation by holding a car wash from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at All Pro Freight Stadium.
Contact James Brady at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.