AVON — The Crushers aren’t hitting and they’re not winning.
Their offensive woes continued Friday, as they were shut out for the second time in three games.
Former Lake Erie starter Jordan Kraus dominated the Crushers, pitching a complete game in the Florence Freedom’s 4-0 victory in the three-game series opener at Sprenger Stadium.
The Crushers (25-23) have lost six consecutive games and seven of eight.
They entered Friday averaging just 2.6 runs a game during the skid, hitting .244 as a team and stranding 41 runners. Then they managed just six hits.
“Today we struggled offensively. I wouldn’t say the last six games we’ve totally struggled offensively in terms of hitting the ball,” Crushers manager Cameron Roth said. “It’s more our clutch hitting and not trying to do too much.
“Tonight they came into a pattern, 1-1 counts they were throwing fastballs in. The change-up was working well for Kraus and Kraus is a good pitcher. You can’t take anything away from him.”
Kraus, who posted a 3-4 record with a 3.70 ERA with Lake Erie in early 2016, struck out seven and walked just one. He threw 118 pitches, 82 for strikes.
“It was a little mix of everything, that’s usually how I pitch,” said Kraus, a Lakewood native. “I can’t rely on one thing because I don’t overpower anybody. I have to mix it up a little bit to keep them off-balance. I was able to get them out tonight.”
The Freedom (24-24) scored first in the fourth when Sandusky High graduate Xavier Turner singled to center off Crushers starter Sean Renzi. He stole second and trotted home on Ricky Ramirez Jr.’s triple into the left-field corner.
Florence added a pair of runs in the seventh on Jordan Brower’s two-run single.
“We have to do a better job of being ready for fastballs, first or second pitches,” Roth said. “I thought we took a lot of fastballs. We did not look ready to pull the trigger on first pitches.
“And recognizing the change-up. It’s something we have to work on and have a much better approach at.”
The Crushers have been without three key offensive components. Kevin LaChance was placed on the seven-day disabled list June 28, Sean Hurley was placed on the suspended list July 3 and Cameron Newell on the 14-day disabled list July 3.
“It’s kind of like a ‘Moneyball’ situation,” Roth said. “I can’t replace a Sean Hurley, there’s only one Sean Hurley. I can’t replace a Cameron Newell, I can’t replace a Kevin LaChance.
“You just have to do what you, as a player, are capable of doing. Gap to gap, put the ball in the outfield, that’s fine. They have to have good at-bats and approaches. When you have 12 rookies on a team, and you have those three impact hitters and players (out), it’s just hard.”
Prior to the game the Crushers released starting pitcher Donny Murray.