AVON — The Crushers sought a sweep. The Slammers had other ideas.
Former Crusher Russell Moldenhauer singled off the right-field fence Sunday to drive in a pair of runs in a six-run eighth inning as Joliet pulled away for an 11-4 win over Lake Erie at All Pro Freight Stadium.
Lake Erie, which won the first two games of the series, struck first in the second when Craig Hertler took an Andrew Busby pitch off his left ankle with the bases loaded to score Juan Sanchez, who led off with a double. Hertler, who was also hit by a Busby pitch in the fourth inning, was one of five different batters to be hit.
A walk and an error set the stage for a two-run triple by Joliet left fielder Marquis Riley in the third inning that gave the Slammers a 2-1 lead and prompted Lake Erie manager Chris Mongiardo to use his bullpen much earlier than he had hoped.
The Crushers used six pitchers, with Connor Whalen taking the loss after giving up five runs in 2⅓ innings.
“We needed a quality start from (Jose) Rosario but he just didn’t have it today,” Mongiardo said. “We held them for a while but we just didn’t get a big hit when we needed it.”
The Crushers (9-6) left 14 runners on base, stranding teammates in scoring position in five of the first six innings. Mongiardo could use his bullpen more than he normally would have because the Crushers have two days off before they’re back in action Wednesday for a twi-night doubleheader at Florence.
Lake Erie tied the game at 3 in the fourth inning when third basemen Anderson Hidalgo singled home Sanchez and Kevin Franchetti.
The Slammers (6-9) retook the lead in the seventh after Whalen allowed a pair of doubles. The second came from Danny Hernandez and scored a pair of runs.
Reliever Jordan Wellander, another former Crusher, picked up the win on his 24th birthday after pitching two innings and allowing a run on three hits.
The crowd of 1,356 was silenced in the eighth inning when Joliet first baseman Adam Giacalone hit a line drive that struck base umpire Chuck Adya in the top of the head. Adya fell to his knees on the infield turf as the ball flew across the infield and landed near the Slammers bullpen down the right-field line.
Adya remained on the ground for nearly 15 minutes while the medical staff attended to him. He was eventually able to stand up under his own power, left the field in a cart and was taken to the Cleveland Clinic Richard E. Jacobs Health Center for stitches and further observation.
Although Joliet manager Jeff Isom, who spent last season leading the Crushers, got the best of his former team Sunday, Mongiardo was pleased to take the series.
“I’m not happy about today at all, but 4-2 is a good homestand,” Mongiardo said. “That’s the consistency you’re looking for over the course of a long season.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.