AVON — Crushers starting pitcher Steve Hagen made two critical mistakes.
And Joliet hit both a long way.
A two-run home run by Spencer Navin in the fourth inning was followed by a solo shot from Edwin Gomez in the fifth to account for the Slammers’ offense in their 3-2 Frontier League victory at Sprenger Stadium.
“That’s all it really came down to and that’s going to happen,” Crushers manager Cam Roth said of the two mistakes. “I thought (Hagen) competed really well today. His fastball coming in was really good and he was throwing off-speed pitches for strikes. Just a couple of them were up in the zone and they were able to handle them.
“That’s part of the game.”
The game was the Crushers debut of Kent State product Connor Simonetti, who arrived at the stadium at noon, seven hours before first pitch, to meet his new team.
Simonetti, who is familiar with Sprenger Stadium after playing in the Mid-American Conference Tournament three times, had three hits in four at-bats and scored the Crushers’ first run in the second inning when Lake Erie took a 2-0 lead.
Simonetti, who had not faced live pitching in three weeks, banged the first pitch he saw into right field for a sharp single.
“The first at-bat I wanted to swing early,” he said. “That’s my approach. I really didn’t see the ball well until that last at-bat so I had to shake the rust off a little bit.”
On the mound for Lake Erie, Hagen scattered eight hits over seven innings. Justin Sinibaldi was perfect in two innings, striking out three to keep the game close.
But the Crushers (23-28) couldn’t break through against Joliet starter Duke Von Schamann. Van Schamann walked just one and struck out nine in eight innings, giving up just the two second-inning runs.
“Tip your cap to Von Schamann,” Roth said. “He threw the ball well. It was a tough one.”
Leadoff hitter L.J. Kalawia had three hits for the Crushers, while Josh McAdams had two to go with Simonetti’s three-hit debut.
“I’m happy with Simonetti, for sure,” Roth said. “Connor did a great job at first base and at the plate had three hits, but we got them kind of spread out a little bit.
“I thought we played well, nine hits today, and you really can’t argue with that. There were just some minor errors that cost us.”
Roth was pleased the Crushers were able to add Simonetti to the lineup.
“I had gotten a couple of phone calls on him from my resources,” he said. “He was contemplating going to some workouts for some Frontier League teams. We’re excited to have him and I think that’s a big offensive piece for us.”
Simonetti, who was drafted in the 13th round by the Washington Nationals in the 2016 MLB Draft, is looking forward to making an impact.
“I talked to Cam, he texted me a few days ago that they were on the All-Star break and they were trying to make some moves to try to get to the playoffs in the second half,” Simonetti said. “He called me and told me he needed a hitter and I told him I would be there.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.