AVON — The best part about baseball is there’s always tomorrow.
The Lake Erie Crushers proved that Sunday, shaking off a tough loss on a controversial play the night before to blow out the Southern Illinois Miners 14-1 and avoid a three-game sweep.
Lake Erie’s fun at the plate started in the fifth inning when the Miners (14-12) went to their bullpen with the score tied at 1. Patrick Duester came into the game with a 23.14 ERA in three appearances and Lake Erie (13-13) smelled blood from the start.
After Duester walked Steven Kraft and Jake Veith, Dale Burdick moved them to second and third on a ground out to the pitcher. Emmanuel Marrero took it from there, breaking the tie and the game wide open with a bases-clearing double.
Zach Racusin flew out to right field for the second out, but Aaron Hill didn’t let Duester off the hook, hitting a two-run home run — his third — over the left-field wall for a 5-1 Crushers lead.
Hill’s home run was big for the game and for him. Last year’s Frontier League Rookie of the Year has stumbled out of the gates this season but is starting to find his groove. He went 2-for-4 and reached base three times Sunday.
“Last night I spent some time with Racusin and we went into the cages and turned on the pitching machine and turned up the velocity and worked on some mechanical things,” Hill said. “Coming into yesterday I felt really great at the plate, but I was just missing it and fouling things back. Once I made that tweak, I’m back doing what I gotta do. Big shoutout to Racusin for helping me out there.”
After getting no-hit for six innings Saturday, Lake Erie flipped the script and got back on track against Miners right-hander Cody Thompson, matching Saturday night’s hit total (five) in just four innings.
“Thompson is a guy that I actually had interest in coming into the offseason,” Crushers manager Cam Roth said. “He’s not their best pitcher but he’s a quality pitcher. We might have had one inning where we put a crooked number up on the scoreboard.
“We knew we had to have a good approach and lay off pitches that we can’t do damage on. We got into counts that were conducive to being successful on the offensive side.”
The Crushers didn’t stop after their fifth-inning uprising, tacking on nine more runs, including four each in the sixth and seventh innings.
Dylan Mouzakes was solid for Lake Erie in his fifth start of the season, striking out four in a row at one point and picking up his second win. The only run Mouzakes allowed came in the first inning even though he didn’t give up a hit.
“That’s Dylan Mouzakes,” Roth said. “He’s going to get the ball and he’s going to work fast and he’s going to put the ball over the plate. I think besides the first inning, that’s the only hiccup that we underwent. He threw the ball well and had good fastball command. That’s usually what we get from him and that’s what is advertised.”
“The only time I got hurt was in the first inning on a walk,” Mouzakes said. “For the most part, I feel like if I hit my spots and stuff I’ll come out with a win. Every time you go out there, you’re trying to do your best. Anytime you can let up three or less runs within six innings, that’s a quality start. I have confidence that these guys are going to play great defense behind me and score runs.”
James Davison Jr. stole second base during the third inning, bringing his total to 10 and moving into a tie for third in the Frontier League.