AVON — Despite having just two saves this season, Lake Erie Crushers closer Jason Wilson is arguably the team’s best pitcher.
But when a team is struggling the way the Crushers have been lately, not even your best pitcher seems to be able to pull you out of your funk.
Wilson allowed a one-out single to Washington’s Garrett Nau in the ninth and a two-run home run by C.J. Beatty over the right-field wall as the Crushers fell 6-5 in front of 3,072 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.
It was their sixth straight loss.
Wilson (0-1) came into the game with the lowest ERA on the team (0.69), giving up only one earned run in 13 innings. Opposing hitters were hitting only .182 against him.
But the blast bumped his ERA to 1.93.
“It’s tough from me to tell from the dugout, but the two-hole guy (Nau) got a little too good of a swing off (Wilson) there,” Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo said. “He’ll be fine. I’ll bounce him right back out there (tonight). To me, the game was decided when (Nau) got on base. Beatty put a good swing on it, but (Nau) was the key at-bat.
“I never really felt comfortable the entire game.”
The Crushers (13-15) made some noise in the bottom of the ninth off former Lake Erie closer Jonathan Kountis.
Juan Sanchez ripped a one-out single to left. Craig Hertler followed with hard, sinking liner down the right-field line. However, Scott Kalamar — who entered the game two innings prior as a pinch-hitter — made a diving, snow-cone catch and landed right on first base with his mitt. With Sanchez about three feet off the bag, it made for a game-ending, unassisted double play.
“We had a little bit of a rally in the ninth,” Mongiardo said. “We didn’t quit the entire game, and I did like that. We just need to start playing a little more consistent all throughout the night.”
Beatty and teammate Stewart Ijames share the league lead with eight home runs, and both players went yard on a night where the wind was blowing out and the teams combined for four long balls. While Beatty’s ended things, it was Ijames who got it started with a leadoff, solo homer to right off Crushers starter Matt Rein.
Rein, with a 7.79 ERA, scattered 10 hits and four earned runs in five innings. He started the sixth by allowing two singles and walk before he was lifted for Brandon Smith.
In a tough situation, Smith allowed a two-run single to pinch-hitter Connor Lewis to give Washington a 4-2 lead. But two Wild Things were thrown out at the plate during the inning to keep the game from getting out of control.
“It kind of caught me off guard with Rein,” Mongiardo said. “I know his pitch count was up a tad, but now that he’s getting back into it and I’ve seen him a little more, two or three guys don’t get on as quickly as they did.
“At least until he gets his arm back in shape, I think we can minimize that a little earlier.”
That loomed large in the bottom of the sixth. Vincent Mejia led off with a home run to dead center — his second of the season — to cut the deficit to 4-3.
With two down and a runner on first, rookie Zach Bricknell — struggling with a .135 average and no RBIs — blasted his first career home run over the
right-field wall off reliever Matt Purnell to put the Crushers in the lead at 5-4.
Washington had three baserunning miscues, including the two plays at the plate in the sixth, over the final four innings that kept them off the board despite 14 hits. But in the ninth, Beatty made sure there would be no misplays on the basepaths with his game-winning blast.
The Crushers banged out 13 hits as rookie Matt Dickason went 2-for-4 with a run in his first professional game. Andrew Davis went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in his first home game of the season.
- Prior to Tuesday’s game, Mongiardo made a flurry of roster moves, signing first-year rookies Matt Dickason (infielder/outfielder), Michael Failoni (first base) and Brant Masters (right-handed pitcher). To make room, the Crushers sent Seth Granger to the Joliet Slammers to complete a trade for Jordan McCoy, placed Trevor Stevens (.234, 6 RBI) on the 14-day disabled list, Adam Ford (.190, 7 RBI) on the suspended list and released Brian Haggett (.217, 1 HR, 5 RBI), Michael Jahns (on injured list all season) and Jose Rosario (1-1, 1.69).
- Ford will have to miss six games and was fined $100, along with missing six game checks, for spitting on an umpire while arguing during the Gateway series.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Lake Erie Crushers vs. Washington Wild Things
WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon
PITCHERS: Jannis (2-3, 6.85 ERA) vs. Dunn (2-1, 3.89)