AVON — Lake Erie starting pitcher Jordan Kraus was in control from the first inning, and this time the bullpen didn’t let it get away.
Kraus was brilliant, allowing just three hits over eight-plus innings as the Crushers won the rubber match of a three-game home set against Evansville, 3-0. He struck out seven and walked only one.
On Saturday night, Lake Erie starter Steve Hagen didn’t allow a run in eight innings, leaving with a 3-0 lead. The Otters rallied with three runs in the top of the ninth before scoring three more in the 10th to win the game.
“I felt good. We had a game plan coming in and I was able to get ahead of the hitters,” Kraus said. “I was executing all my pitches and it worked out well for us.”
Crushers manager Cameron Roth brought the right-hander out to start the top of the ninth inning, but a leadoff double by Kaeo Aliviado ended his night as Roth turned to Chandler Jagodzinski to close it out.
Jagodzinski retired three in a row — striking out two — to record his second save of the season.
“He’s a competitor that’s very composed on the mound,” Roth said of Kraus, an Olmsted Falls graduate. “He was at 110 pitches when I pulled him. I was going to give him a baserunner. That was enough for me.”
The Crushers (19-24) took the lead in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, catcher Bryan De La Rosa was hit by a pitch. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, then came around to score when left fielder Parker Norris tripled past a diving Kaeo Aliviado in left.
Norris was cut down at the plate on a fielder’s choice groundout to first by Justin Byrd, who then stole second and came home on Max Casper’s single to center.
Lake Erie added its third run in the fifth when De La Rosa singled and scored after Otters catcher Kolten Yamaguchi threw Norris’ sacrifice bunt attempt down the first base line into the right-field corner.
“It takes pitching and defense on both ends to go out and get a win,” Roth said. “We did some things offensively that were good and saw some things from some guys. We pieced it together offensively and had some good swings, even after we scored the three runs.”
Kraus worked off his fastball all night, using it to get ahead before working his breaking pitches to put the batters away.
“It’s huge when you can keep the same hand speed on all your pitches,” he said. “When your hands slow down, the hitters usually pick up on that and will hit you hard. I was able to keep everything at the same speed tonight.”
Evansville fell to 26-20.
The Crushers have two days off before returning to action Wednesday at Windy City for a doubleheader.