December 19, 2014

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Errors costly in Crushers’ loss to Wild Things

Crushers shortstop Juan Gonzalez makes the play to get the out at second base. CHRISTY LEGEZA/CHRONICLE

Crushers shortstop Juan Gonzalez makes the play to get the out at second base. CHRISTY LEGEZA/CHRONICLE

AVON — On Friday night, the Lake Erie’s defense committed four errors against Washington, the East Division leaders.

On Saturday night, the Crushers added three more miscues to the total, and all three directly led to two Wild Things runs.

That, along with a two-run home run by Stewart Ijames in the third inning, proved to be the difference in a 5-3 Crushers loss in front of 2,090 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.

The Crushers (19-19) are now five games behind Washington (24-14) in the division standings after losing two straight. This was only the second time since 2009 that Washington has won a series at The Freight.

All three errors occurred around the second base area, and all came during attempted double plays. Two resulted in injuries — Anderson Hidalgo had an errant throw in the third when he was taken out on a slide by Garrett Rau and Juan Sanchez was charged with an error when his throw caught Ijames in the face in the seventh — and both resulted in runs.

“The errors tonight really counted,” Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo said. “The one on Sanchez that hit (Ijames), there’s nothing I can say about that. I can’t really argue it. There wasn’t interference on the runner in either case. There was a clean slide there.

“The first error was on a groundball to (Vincent) Mejia at third, and he could have just stepped on the bag for one and threw to second, but whatever. That’s how they got their first run.”

Hidalgo injured his knee on the first play. He stayed in the game for the remainder of the inning, but he was replaced by Matt Dickason on his next at-bat. Mongiardo did not have an update on Hidalgo’s condition.

Likewise, there was no update on Ijames’ condition. He was replaced by Scott Kalamar in the top of the eighth.

For the first time on the homestand, the Crushers took the first lead of the game. Adam Ford led off with a double and scored on Andrew Davis’ sacrifice fly to center for a 1-0 Lake Erie lead.

But Matt Rein (0-3, 6.35 ERA) was touched up for a three-run third. Back-to-back singles by Daniel Poma, who went 3-for-5, and Rau put runners on first and second with one down in the inning. C.J. Beatty followed with his grounder to third that resulted in a force at second, but also Hidalgo’s error. Poma scored on the play and Beatty took second.

Two pitches later, Ijames drilled one onto the grassy knoll beyond the left-field wall for two runs, making it 3-1 Washington.

The blast was Ijames’ league-leading 12th of the season and resulted in his league-best 37th RBI.

Rein gave up another run in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Beatty — his 31st RBI of the season — to make it 4-2 Wild Things.

“He’s not throwing like himself right now, but he did a good enough job and gave us a shot,” Mongiardo said. “He’s showing signs. For two innings against Traverse City, he looked like the Rein from last year and was back in the groove. Today, he was out of rhythm the whole time. He hung around a little bit, but he made a couple of bad pitches.”

The Crushers scored in the fourth on a throwing error from Poma in center field after a single by Ryan Hutchison. The throw, which was an attempt to cut Craig Hertler down at third after he ran from first, wound up in the stands and sent Hertler home.

Davis led off the sixth with a ground-rule double off Washington starter Chris Phelan (5-2). He scored on a two-out double to center by Hertler to make it a 4-3 game. But that’s as close as the Crushers could get.

A double play grounder to third by Emmanuel Quiles thwarted a two-on, one-out opportunity in the seventh. That was the last time the Crushers threatened, as former Crusher Jonathan Kountis locked down his league-leading 15th save, and second save in as many nights, with a 1-2-3 ninth.

The Crushers came into Saturday’s game last in the Frontier League in batting average (.229) and home runs (9).

“I hope (our difference maker on offense) is already here, because he’d be tough to find at this point,” Mongiardo said.
“Especially when it comes to an experienced guy. That’s why we have guys like Juan, Hidalgo and Davis.”

Note

The Crushers made a couple of roster moves.

First, they acquired relief pitcher Ryan Connelly from former manager Jeff Isom and the Joliet Slammers for a third-round pick in the 2015 Frontier League Tryout Draft. Connelly was 1-2 with a save and a 6.05 ERA in 14 appearances for the Slammers this year. He was in the Houston Astros organization last season after a stellar career at Coastal Carolina.

Next, they signed rookie infielder Joey Burney, who starred at Old Dominion from 2011-14. Burney started Saturday night as the DH and went 1-for-4. To make room, Michael Failoni was released and relief pitcher Brandon Smith was placed on the 7-day disabled list.

Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com.

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