AVON — Lake Erie found the perfect slumpbuster Sunday — the three-run home run.
Russell Moldenhauer and Seth Granger each belted a three-run blast as the Crushers defeated Schaumburg 11-2 to salvage the final game in the three-set clash of division leaders.
Moldenhauer, batting in the clean-up spot for the first time all season, homered in the first inning off Boomers starter Mike Giovenco to make the score 3-0. Moldenhauer has four home runs in the Crushers’ last five games and 14 this season.
“I just show up and look for my name in the lineup,” said Moldenhauer when asked about replacing Andrew Davis in the No. 4 position in the batting order. “I’ve never worried about where I hit as long as I get a chance to go out there and swing the bat.”
Moldenhauer’s big hit was the first of many for a Lake Erie team that pounded out 19 hits while improving to 51-36 to remain one game ahead of Traverse City in the Eastern Division standings.
The Beach Bums defeated Normal 6-1 on Sunday.
The Crushers scored single runs in the second, third and fifth innings on a pair of singles by Davis and another by Craig Hertler to extend the lead to 6-0 and provide a cushion for starting pitcher Dave Middendorf, who took full advantage and cruised to his 11th win of the season. He allowed a run and four hits over eight innings.
“I was able to locate my fastball and when I did miss it was down,” Middendorf said.
“I tweaked a few things with my slider over the past few days and that wound up working out pretty good. You can ask any pitcher, when you’re out on the mound with a big lead it’s the most comfortable thing ever. You can let loose and throw the ball. I know I have a good defense behind me, so I don’t have to try to strike out every hitter.”
In the sixth inning, Lake Erie’s first five hitters reached base against reliever James Bierlein. The biggest hit of the inning was Granger’s home run that sailed over the wall in right-center field and one-hopped off the scoreboard.
“We had everything today,” Lake Erie manager Jeff Isom said. “It was a good time for us to get off this little losing streak we were on and move on with the season. We have nine games left in the season so we just have to focus on playing good baseball.”
Lake Erie will play its final three road games of the season beginning Tuesday at
Windy City before returning home to face the Frontier Greys and the Beach Bums in a pair of three-game series to conclude the regular season.
Schaumburg didn’t score until the seventh inning when Ty Nelson singled home Justin Vasquez, who reached base with a two-out double.
The Boomers, who have the best record in the Frontier League at 53-34, got their other run in the ninth on Steve McQuail’s line-drive solo home run off Crushers closer Dale Dickerson. McQuail is just one shy of the league lead in homers.
Lake Erie, which entered the game fifth in the Frontier League with a .259 batting average, had at least two hits in every inning except the third when the Crushers were retired in order.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.