December 18, 2014

Elyria
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28°F
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Crushers’ bats stay hot in series finale

Lake Erie’s Emmanuel Quiles, left, takes a throw at first base Wednesday in front of a Frontier baserunner. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Lake Erie’s Emmanuel Quiles, left, takes a throw at first base Wednesday in front of a Frontier baserunner. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

AVON — The quick turnaround from Tuesday night’s win did not hamper the Lake Erie Crushers’ offense at all.

Less than 24 hours after erupting for seven runs, the Crushers put up another seven on the Frontier Greys on Wednesday morning. They ended a six-game homestand on a high note, winning 7-2, in front of 2,536 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.

“It’s a big win for us,” Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo said. “This is a big road trip for us (starting tonight at Normal for three games, and concluding with three more at Schaumburg), so anytime you can get some positive momentum going before that kind of trip is a good thing.

“They were ready to go today. (Assistant coach) Mike (Humeston) got the guys going early today and he was in a good mood. I think that carried over.”

The Crushers (31-26, 20-13 at home) finished 4-2 on the first homestand after the All-Star break and are 11-7 since July 1. They are one game out of the final wild-card spot under the Frontier League’s new expanded postseason format of six teams.

Crushers Juan Sanchez launches a home run.

Crushers Juan Sanchez blasts a solo home run.

The Crushers were held without a hit for the first 22⁄3 innings by Greys starter Brandon Rohde (5-3). But shortstop Juan Sanchez, known more for his defense, drilled a 1-2 pitch through the wind and onto the grassy knoll beyond the left-field wall for his first home run.

The blast tied the game 1-1 and seemed to open the floodgates.

“We got off to a slow start,” Mongiardo said. “We got that big home run from Juan and that basically kicked us off. It seemed like it lit a fire under everybody. Then we started hitting. We had a lot of hard-hit balls today. Even (Kevin) Franchetti had that one that the center fielder made a nice play on (in the sixth).”

Sanchez, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, had a feeling his homer would kick-start the offense.

“I’m not a big guy for hitting homers, but today was the day,” Sanchez said. “I never gave up. I want to do whatever I can to help the team win. I was down 1-2 and got a great pitch to hit. I’m feeling really good right now. Everyone in the dugout was saying, ‘Oh my God, you got your first one.’ It seemed like it energized everyone in the dugout.”

The Crushers responded with two more runs in the fourth, paced by veteran Andrew Davis. Davis, who went 2-for-5 with two runs to raise his average to .223, got it started with a one-out ground-rule double down the left-field line. Anderson Hidalgo followed with a bloop single to center.

Davis, running with his head down, didn’t see third-base coach Matt Rein’s stop sign and barreled home. It seemed to catch the Greys by surprise, because the throw home was a tad late. Davis slid safely, giving the Crushers a 2-1 lead.

“I hope so,” Mongiardo said, when asked if Davis is rounding back into his usual form. “He’s going to do what he’s going to do. When the game’s on the line, I know he’s going to be there all the time.”

After the Greys got a run back in the top of the fifth, the Crushers made sure there would be no comeback with a three-run bottom half of the inning. The Crushers strung together five straight hits, with the big ones being a two-run double by leadoff man Craig Hertler and an RBI single by Emmanuel Quiles.

The outburst made a winner out of rookie Zach Gordon (1-2). Gordon gave the Crushers five solid innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits, one walk and two strikeouts.

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

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