AVON — Mistakes doomed Lake Erie on Wednesday.
The Crushers built a two-run lead heading into the eighth inning, but a pair of errors led to four unearned runs and allowed Evansville to come away with a 7-4 victory — its second straight win in the series.
“It’s tough,” said Lake Erie manager Cam Roth, whose team fell to 25-22. “I can deal with physical errors, it’s part of the game, it’s human nature. It’s the mental errors we can try to control. But it’s going to happen. You have all rookies on the field and sometimes they’re going to make mistakes.”
Lake Erie’s pitching was cruising until the eighth. Starter Donny Murray lasted 41⁄3 innings, giving up two hits, four walks and the first two runs of the game. Relievers Max Biedrzycki and Branden Nunn shut down the Otters through the seventh.
Nunn looked as if he was going to have an easy eighth inning, retiring the first two. But a bloop single from Zack Welz opened the door for Evansville (25-21).
And the Otters took full advantage.
Mike Rizzitello drew a walk and Hunter Cullen sent a grounder into right field. The hit scored Welz, but right fielder Doug Trimble couldn’t field the ball. It rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Rizzitello to tie the game at four.
Cullen reached third on the error, but Nunn induced a Taylor Hillson groundout to end the inning.
Seth Lucio started the ninth, allowing an infield single to David Cronin. While he retired two, he also loaded the bases with another hit and a walk. Roth went to closer Justin Sinibaldi to get the final out, and he induced a chopper to shortstop Aaron Hill, but his throw pulled Kewby Meyer off the base, giving Evansville a 5-4 lead.
Zack Welz gave the Otters some cushion — sending a grounder into right for two more runs.
“We could have had some plays, but when we were hitting we had more opportunities to put up some more runs,” Crushers third baseman Dane Hutcheon said. “I’m not going to put the blame on anybody. It’s a team win, it’s a team loss. It’s all right, we’ll bounce back.”
The Crushers built a 4-2 lead through seven — taking matters into their own hands in the second. Hill stole second, inducing a throw from the catcher, Rizzitello. Hill beat the throw and Bryan De La Rosa scored on the double steal to get the Crushers on the board.
Hill made things happen again in the fifth, reaching on a single, and Hutcheon gave the Crushers a 3-2 lead with a home run on the next at-bat. The duo struck again in the seventh, both reaching on infield singles to set up Meyer, who brought home Hill on a sacrifice fly.
“I was just looking for something hard to hit,” Hutcheon said of the homer. “I got the pitch I wanted and fortunately hit it where I wanted.”
The holiday has been great for the Crushers at the gate, with the team drawing more than 4,000 fans for the second straight day. Wednesday’s crowd of 4,227 fans set a new high for the year. Lake Erie’s attendance for the series sits at 8,380.