AVON — Over 3,400 Lake Erie fans came to Sprenger Stadium on Friday night dressed in pink as the Crushers had their annual Pack The Park Pink night to raise money for the Susan G. Koman Foundation of Northeast Ohio.
The Crushers’ inability to get a clutch hit sent many of those same fans home feeling blue.
Lake Erie managed to score only an unearned run against a trio of Southern Illinois pitchers in a 2-1 loss in Frontier League action.
The Crushers (12-12) had just four hits but they had a number of chances to score, leaving eight runners on base.
Second baseman Aaron Hill scored Lake Erie’s lone run in the sixth inning on a Chase Cunningham wild pitch after leading off the inning with a walk.
The Crushers used three walks and a Southern Illinois error in that inning to load the bases but Cunningham recovered to strike out Zach Racusin and Emmanuel Marrero to end the inning.
“The clutch hitting just wasn’t there and that’s seemed to be the case for the last 10 games or so,” Lake Erie manager Cam Roth said.
“I think we have guys who are trying to do to much and we’re getting outside of ourselves. We don’t need a hero, we just need a good swing on the ball and that’s something we’re not getting right now.”
Southern Illinois (13-11) got all the offense it needed on a third-inning RBI double off the bat of Jonanthan Pryor that scored Arturo Nieto and Bryant Flete.
Cunningham pitched 6 1/3 innings to get the win, while Pat Ledet took the loss for Lake Erie to fall to 1-1.
Four Crushers pitchers — Ledet, Chris Pennell, Michael Stryffeler and Augie Gallardo — combined to strike out nine while not allowing a walk.
“When you’re not getting the hits you just have to hope your pitching can keep you in the game and so far that’s what it’s been able to do,” Roth said. “
Officially the Crushers commit only one error, but Racusin got a bad break off the bat on Pryor’s double to left field, turning what could have been the third out into what proved to be the game-winning hit.
Lake Erie had a final chance in the ninth when designated hitter Gavin Stupinski hit a two-out double off Miners closer Gabe Gentner. Bryan De La Rosa followed by drawing a walk but Hill struck out for the third time in as many at-bats to end the game.
The Crushers didn’t arrive back in Avon until 10 a.m. Friday morning after splitting a doubleheader in River City on Thursday night.
“With the rain we wound up driving 20 hours and only playing a few innings of baseball,” Roth said. “We tried to get the guys some rest during the day but we were flat in the beginning and rightfully so. I project you’re going to see us play with a lot more energy (today).”