September 21, 2014

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Crushers can’t come up with big hit, fall to Freedom

The Crushers’ Vincent Mejia slides safely into second as Florence’s Jorge Marban leaps for the ball. AMANDA K. RUNDLE/CHRONICLE

The Crushers’ Vincent Mejia slides safely into second as Florence’s Jorge Marban leaps for the ball. AMANDA K. RUNDLE/CHRONICLE

AVON — Friday was one of those nights that the breaks didn’t seem to go the Lake Erie Crushers’ way, especially where the offense — or lack thereof — was concerned.

The Crushers were limited to six hits by Florence starter Casey Henn and two relievers and didn’t advance a runner beyond second, despite having runners on base in seven innings in a 2-0 loss at All Pro Freight Stadium.

While the bullpen tossed 5⅔ innings of one-hit, scoreless relief, the two runs Crushers starter Zack Gordon (0-2) allowed in the third proved to be more than enough for the Freedom (22-28).

The Crushers fell to 27-25 and 16-12 at The Freight.

The best chance the Crushers had came in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch hitter Joey Burney led off with a single up the middle and leadoff man Craig Hertler followed with a single to right.

Burney rounded second and appeared to beat the throw from right fielder Ryan Solberg. However, he had a poor slide and was tagged out.

Andrew Davis drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second, but Vincent Mejia — who was 2-for-2 to that point — struck out swinging on a full-count.

“We just didn’t hit,” Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo said. “Burney got a good read on the first-and-third, he just slid too early. That’s what happened. He got a good read and you’ve got to go first-to-third on that hit.

“I think (third base coach) Matt (Rein) sent him, or else he was on his own. Either way, it was the right move. The ball’s down the line and you’ve got a good jump on it. He just slid too early.”

Another golden opportunity came in the fifth, when a two-out single by Hertler put runners on first and second. However, Emmanuel Quiles hit a solid liner that went straight to Florence shortstop Mike Wilson for the third out.

“Quiles had that big line out … we just came out a little flat,” Mongiardo said.

The Crushers also grounded into two double plays, including one by Ryan Hutchison to end the game.

Gordon ran into trouble in the third, giving up three singles which led to the only two runs of the game. Back-to-back singles by Cole Miles and Ben Kline put runners on the corners with one out, and a passed ball put them both in scoring position.

Miles scored on Rob Kelly’s sacrifice fly to left, and Kline scored from second on Sam Eberle’s two-out RBI single up the middle.

After a leadoff single in the fourth, followed by a comebacker, Mongiardo came out with the quick hook on Gordon.

“(Gordon) usually throws a lot of two-seamers with some downward movement to get ground balls,” Mongiardo said. “He was leaving them a little up in the zone. I knew that I had a fresh bullpen and I wanted to keep us in the game and I didn’t think he had it. I think he agreed.”

Relievers Brad Duffy, Brandon Smith, Trevor Longfellow, Brad Zambron and Jason Wilson combined to hold Florence to just one hit and one walk over the remainder of the game, striking out four.

Longfellow lasted the longest, tossing two perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, and a two-out ground-rule double by Kelly off Zambron in the eighth was the lone blemish.

However, the sterling effort by the pen went for naught.

Hertler and Mejia had two hits apiece. Henn, Pete Levitt and closer Jorge Marban (eighth save) combined to strike out nine and walk three.

Notable

  • Crushers ace Todd Kibby got the honor of starting Wednesday’s Frontier League All-Star Game for the East team. However, the West won 2-0. Kibby and Zac Treece (third inning) each pitched a scoreless inning. However, reliever Jordan McCoy — a late replacement — was the losing pitcher, giving up two runs on one hit in the fifth. Mejia (1-for-1), Quiles (0-for-1) and Juan Sanchez (1-for-2) also played for the Crushers.
  • Ex-Crusher Dave Middendorf will start tonight’s game for the Freedom. Rein will come off the DL to start for the Crushers.
  • Mongiardo set the rest of the rotation: Mickey Jannis (Sunday), Kibby (Monday) and Treece (Tuesday), giving his All-Stars some extra rest.

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

TONIGHT
WHO: Lake Erie Crushers vs. Florence Freedom
TIME: 7:05
WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon
PITCHERS: Rein (0-4, 6.63 ERA) vs. Middendorf (3-4, 4.23)

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