AVON — Four days into his tenure with the Crushers, John Cable is already feeling the pain.
Fortunately, it’s the pain of winning.
With the bases loaded in the 11th inning, Cable was hit by a pitch to drive in the winning run in a 3-2 walk-off victory over Gateway at Sprenger Stadium on Tuesday evening.
“It was definitely worth it,” Cable said. “To win the game it’s always worth it. I literally felt the win.”
Cable’s sacrifice gave the Crushers sole possession of first place in the East Division at 17-15. Gateway fell to 14-20, last in the West.
The only downside was that Lake Erie’s 6-foot-5 lefty Jared Koenig didn’t get the win for his stellar seven-inning effort. He struck out 11, allowing four hits and three walks. He struck out the side in the fourth.
“I had pretty good command overall and then my curveball was pretty good,” Koenig said. “I had some swing and misses on that, which was huge for me. It helps to command that and the fastball. They didn’t want to swing at the change-up, but I was still throwing it well so I was content with that.”
The bullpen also pitched well, save for the ninth.
Logan Lombana — who was making just his second appearance of the year — hit Connor Owings to lead off the inning. After a groundout moved Owings to second, Gunnar Buhner reached on a fielder’s choice and Owings was able to avoid the tag.
Matt Brown tied the game at 2 with a shot up the middle to score Owings.
Lake Erie manager Cam Roth, however, had nothing but praise for his bullpen. Kent Hasler pitched a scoreless eighth and Augie Gallardo struck out four in the two extra innings.
“Logan’s going to be out there tomorrow in a save situation,” Roth said. “There is no confidence or anything like that that’s been squandered. As long as he feels good, he’s going to be out there, he’s our guy.”
Gateway got a solid start from Thomas Nicoll, who filled in for Cody Luther, who was a late scratch for an undisclosed reason. Nicoll went six innings, allowing five hits, two walks and striking out seven.
Lake Erie got on the board thanks to a defensive miscue by right fielder Luke Lowery, who dropped what would have been the second out of the first inning. James Davison advanced to third and then scored on a wild pitch. Nicoll pitched his way out of the jam with a strikeout and a groundout.
Buhner got the run back in the second with a solo shot to left.
The Crushers thought they took back the lead in the bottom of the second when Aaron Hill crossed the plate on Davison’s single up the middle, but on appeal the umpires ruled that Hill did not touch third base and he was called out.
“He missed it pretty bad,” Roth said. “We could have held him or send him, obviously it’s the right move to send him. I saw it, he missed it and he told me he missed it by about 2 feet, to be honest with you.”
Hill made up for it in the fifth with a leadoff double. Davison bunted him over and Steven Kraft sacrificed him home with a fly to left, giving the Crushers a 2-1 lead that held until the ninth.