After a slow start to the season, the Lake Erie Crushers are starting to make things interesting in the Frontier League’s East Division standings.
Once struggling to stay out of the division basement, the Crushers have heated up with the weather. Friday night before 2,531 at All Pro Freight Stadium, they capped off a series sweep of the River City Rascals with a 3-2 win.
That made it five straight wins for Lake Erie, which left town just one game under .500 at 19-20. The Crushers next play the 22-17 Florence Freedom in a brief two-game series this weekend before returning home or the July 4 holiday. The Freedom are currently three games ahead of Lake Erie in the East Division standings.
Reliever and former Kent State hurler Ben Klafczynski (2-0) earned the win for Lake Erie after pitching 1.0 inning with one hit allowed and two strikeouts.
Josh Rickards started the game for the Crushers, who have won seven of their last 10 games. Rickards went four innings with one strikeout and two earned runs allowed.
Adrian Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 21 games by recording one base hit. His season average now sits at .319. Jason Taylor contributed two base hits, while also driving in one run. Taylor now has 11 RBI over his past 10 games.
Bats get sweep underway
A crowd of 4,041 watched Wednesday night as Lake Erie got their sweep of the Rascals started with a 7-1 win. A Taylor two-run homer in the first inning, his fifth of the season, got things rolling for the home team.
River City came into the series with a record of 22-14 and was making a move in the West Division at the time. After the sweep, they left Avon three games behind first place Schaumburg at 22-17 and one game behind second place Windy City.
Taylor is currently second on the team in batting and sixth in the league with his .330 average. He went five for 11 in the series with five RBI, two walks and a stolen base.
Ace Paul Fagan started for the Crushers and went the distance for the victory, improving his record to 3-3. Fagan struck out five batters while allowing only one unearned run. That dropped his earned run average to 2.75, eighth best in the league.
Centerfielder Adrian Ortiz continued his torrid hitting by extending his hitting streak to 19 games with a two hit, three RBI game. Ortiz’s batting average improved to .316 for the season. J.C. Figueroa and Wally Correa each contributed one base hit and one RBI as well.
On Thursday, the Crushers’ bats had a big night in their 11-6 win.
The Crushers recorded a total of 15 base hits, with Russell Moldenhauer and Brian Erie leading the onslaught with three base hits each. Moldenhauer collected one RBI, two runs scored, and blasted a solo homer, while Erie finished the game with three RBI and two runs scored.
Ortiz extended his hitting streak to 20 games by registering two hits, one run scored and one RBI. Taylor also stayed hot, putting together a two-hit, two-RBI game.
Trevor Longfellow earned the win, and improved to 3-2. He tossed five full innings with two strikeouts and two earned runs allowed. Longfellow now has 33 strikeouts on the season in 10 appearances.
Reliever Mickey Jannis was credited with the save, which was his third of the season. He went three and a third innings with one strikeout.
What’s up next?
Lake Erie returns home Tuesday, July 3 for a 7:05 p.m. game with the London Rippers. After that three-game holiday series, the Crushers will open and three-game weekend series with the second place Southern Illinois Miners.
Tuesday night will be Military Appreciation Night, and the Crushers will celebrate July 4 with a pregame tailgate party beginning at 3 p.m. in the parking lot at All Pro Freight Stadium. Food, entertainment and more will be made available to fans who want to celebrate prior to that night’s game with London. There will also be fireworks after the game.
The Crushers will be honoring the Police and Fire Departments in the community with a Guns and Hoses promotion set for Thursday, July 5 with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Crushers are allowing police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians to come to the game for free with proper identification. Friends and family of emergency services can also pre-order group rate tickets by calling 440-934-3636 or by stopping by the All Pro Freight Stadium box office.
The order form is available online. Fans interested may drop off, mail, or fax the form to All Pro Freight Stadium. All information needed is on the form.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 440-934-3636, at the box office, or online at lakeeriecrushers.com. Be sure to follow the team via social media on Facebook and Twitter (@LECrushers) for updates, photos, contests, specials and more.