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Lake Erie Crushers

Frontier League: Bad defense derails Crushers in 6-4 loss to Windy City

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    Crushers player Aaron Hill gets a hit Saturday.

    JIM POLACZYNSKI / CHRONICLE

  • 072918-CRUSHERS-V-THUNDERBOLTS-JP02

    Crushers pitcher Branden Nunn fires one in Monday.

    JIM POLACZYNSKI / CHRONICLE

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AVON — Lake Erie couldn’t muster enough defense to secure a win Sunday.

Hampered by three errors, the Crushers allowed two unearned runs and lost 6-4 to Windy City at Sprenger Stadium, dropping two games behind Joliet for first place in the Frontier League East Division race.

At 38-29, Lake Erie is right in the thick of the four-team playoff race, which consists of two division winners and two wild cards. The Crushers hold a one-game lead for the top wild card, but are one of three teams in the hunt — the other also fighting for the East Division.

“It’s good (to be in this position),” Crushers first baseman Doug Trimble said. “No matter what position we’re in, we’re going to be playing the same way we’re playing. Hopefully that sticks throughout the season.”

Justin Sinibaldi — who leads the Crushers with 10 saves — made his third start of the year and gave his team five innings. He struck out three on six hits and gave up three runs, one earned.

But thanks to the defense, the Crushers were playing catch up until the sixth. Windy City’s Axel Johnson delivered an RBI single into right field in the first. Lake Erie’s Mason Brown tied the game in the second with a liner into left, scoring Zach Racusin. The throw beat him home, but catcher Larry Balkwill dropped the ball.

Defensive miscues allowed the ThunderBolts to score two runs in the fourth. Riley Kane grounded into what looked to be a double-play ball, but an errant throw to second by Trimble loaded the bases. Terrance Robertson struck out, but Joe Becht made it 3-1 with a two-out single into center.

“You’ve just got to make sure you get the next one and stay focused,” said Trimble, who is transitioning from the outfield to first base. “We can’t let it get us down or bring it to our at-bats. We came back the next inning and didn’t show we were down about our defense.”

The Crushers rallied in the sixth with Aaron Hill and Terry McClure reaching on back-to-back singles. Racusin brought one home with a single and Trimble gave the Crushers a 4-3 lead with a grounder down the first-base line.

But the lead was short lived as errors struck again in the seventh. Reliever Branden Nunn short-hopped a throw to first on a bunt from Omar Obregon that loaded the bases with no outs. Luke Watts came into the jam and minimized the damage to just one run.

“He’s made huge strides today,” Crushers manager Cam Roth said of Watts. “He’s got to take today as a win. He can’t take it as something poor that happened just because he gave up a home run. He didn’t walk people, came into a jam and got out of it with minimal damage. That could have exploded the game.”

Windy City took the lead in the eighth thanks to a solo home run by Blair Beck. Tyer Straub added an insurance run with an RBI single in the ninth.

Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com. Follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.

Windy City 6, Lake Erie 4

Windy City Lake Erie

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Obregon 5 2 2 0 Hutcheon 4 0 2 0

Zier 5 0 1 1 Hill 3 1 1 0

Johnson 5 0 1 1 McClure 4 1 1 0

Balkwill 4 1 1 0 Lenahan 4 0 1 0

Straub 5 1 2 1 Racusin 3 2 2 1

Beck 5 1 2 1 Trimble 3 0 1 2

Krane 4 0 0 0 Williams 1 0 0 0

Robertson 4 1 1 0 Wheat 4 0 0 0

Becht 4 0 2 2 Brown 4 0 1 1

Roark 3 0 0 0

McKeithan 0 0 0 0

Totals 41 6 12 6 Totals 33 4 9 4

Windy City 100 200 111 — 6 12 1

Lake Erie 010 003 000 — 4 9 3

2B — Trimble, Hutcheon. HR — Beck. LOB — Windy City 9, Lake Erie 4.

IP R ER H BB SO

Windy City

Zac Westcott 52⁄3 4 4 8 1 1

Drew Peden 21⁄3 0 0 1 0 2

Devin Raffery 1 0 0 0 0 2

Lake Erie

Justin Sinibaldi 5 3 1 6 0 3

Branden Nunn 1 1 1 2 0 1

Luke Watts 2 1 1 2 0 3

Seth Lucio 1 1 1 2 1 2

PB — Balkwill. HBP — Racusin (by Westcott). A — 1,983.

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