AVON - A lack of clutch hitting and a couple of questionable plays on the bases spelled defeat for the Lake Erie Crushers again on Saturday.
Southern Illinois scored all of its runs in the sixth inning and held on for a 4-2 win over Lake Erie in front of 2,872 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Crushers (7-13) struggled at the plate, managing only five hits against four Miners pitchers.
"These guys are competitors," Lake Erie manager John Massarelli said. "They want to win as bad as the coaches do. They are going to turn it around soon."
Early on it looked like the Crushers would have a breakout night as they scored a run in the first and third innings to jump out to a 2-0 lead.
In the first, Felix Martinez reached first on an error by Miners first baseman Matt Fields.
Third baseman Andrew Davis followed with a double to the left-field power alley, scoring Martinez, but Davis was thrown out at third trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Scott Houin drove in Zac Messer in the third with an RBI fielder's choice. Before Lake Erie could add to its lead, Martinez was gunned down for the third out of the inning trying to advance from first to second on a flyout to right field.
"Those were not bad baserunning plays," Massarelli said. "(Southern Illinois) just made some good defensive plays tonight."
Miners starter Sean Teague left the game after three innings with a shoulder injury. Thomas Campbell came on to toss 3 1/3 innings of two-hit relief to earn his first professional win.
Travis Risser (1-4) went 5 2/3 innings for the Crushers, allowing eight hits and all four Miners runs. Kelyn Schellenberg and Paul Daniels combined to hold Southern Illinois scoreless the rest of the way.
Southern Illinois (14-6) is 5-0 this season against the Crushers, with four of the wins coming by one run.
"I wouldn't say we've had their number this season, I would say we have been really lucky," Southern Illinois manager Mike Pinto said. "We know what kind of hitters (Lake Erie) has but we have just been playing good baseball and our pitching and defense have been leading the way."
The Crushers got the tying run to third base in the bottom of the ninth after Joel Collins hit a two-out single, but Jason Taylor hit a popup to first to end the game.
Fields started the Miners' sixth-inning rally with his fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot that tied the game at 2. Nate Hall and Jereme Milons followed with back-to-back singles and both came home to score on a Will Block double.
Lake Erie made a fine defensive play of its own in the ninth inning when left fielder Kellen Kulbacki and Davis, who moved to shortstop in the eighth, made a series of perfect throws to nail Milons at the plate after a Kenji Sakaguchi single to keep it a two-run game.
Erik Draxton earned his seventh save of the season for the Miners.
Despite the fact the Crushers are in last place in the Frontier League's Eastern Division, Massarelli said it's not time to push the panic button.
"This was only game No. 20, the season is still young," he said. "It's not like we're 10 games behind. We are nowhere near out of it yet."
Crushers announce all-star plans
The Lake Erie Crushers are hosting the Frontier League All-Star game on July 13 and have announced some activities leading up to the game.
An All-Star Fan Fest and Home Run Derby are scheduled for July 12, with the Fan Fest and Kick-It kickball event scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and lasting until 7 p.m., followed by the Home Run Derby at 7:30. Kick-It raises money for pediatric cancer research and will involve kickball games during the Fan Fest. Kick-It will receive a dollar from each ticket sold to the Fan Fest. Other family fun activities will take place on the concourse, with fans having the opportunity to meet and receive autographs from the Frontier League All-Stars.
Individual tickets for the Fan Fest and Home Run Derby are $5 for general admission Seating Bowl tickets. Fans wishing to attend the Fan Fest, Home Run Derby and the All-Star game can purchase an All-Star ticket package for $14, which includes the general admission ticket to the Fan Fest and Home Run Derby and a home box All-Star Game ticket.
Groups of 20 or more can purchase group outing tickets to the Fan Fest and Home Run Derby for $4 each.
Call (440) 934-3636 to purchase tickets for any and all of the All-Star events.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.