AVON — In the three-year history of All Pro Freight Stadium, a no-hitter had never been thrown by any professional pitcher — Crushers or otherwise.
So maybe on a day the Cleveland Indians were victims of a no-hitter just 30 miles to the east, it was only fitting for The Freight to get in on the festivities.
Alas for the Crushers, it was the hosts who were the victims of that historic first no-hitter.
Despite 136 pitches, six walks and one earned run, Joliet’s Andrew Moss (3-3) held Lake Erie hitless for nine innings as and the Slammers rolled to a 10-1 win Wednesday in front of 3,092 fans.
The last no-hitter in the Frontier League came on July 26, 2009, almost two years ago to the day. It’s the 15th no-hitter in league history and only the third one in which the victimized team scored a run.
“To be honest, this was probably the worst no-hitter of all time,” said Moss, who struck out eight in his first no-hitter since college. “I walked a ton of batters and I hit a guy. We had a big lead, but I started walking some guys and I was pretty mad at myself.
“The fact that we won the game is the most important thing. My defense was amazing tonight, and putting up 10 runs, you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Moss’ crowning achievement didn’t happen without some drama. Jodam Rivera, who was robbed of a double in the first inning by diving center fielder Bobby Leeper, hit Moss’ first pitch of the inning to deep right field. However, Josh Flores caught it at the wall for a long out.
“He did a good job and he threw a lot of strikes,” Rivera said of Moss. “When you throw a lot of strikes, good things are gonna happen, and things went his way. We battled. We stroked the ball pretty good during the game, but we just couldn’t find the hole. We can’t control that.”
Rivera jumped up on contact on his drive to right, believing it was going to be a home run, a move the Joliet bench took issue with.
“I thought (that out) had a chance to be a home run, but I would have been happy with a single,” Rivera said. “I didn’t try to pimp it or anything, I was just caught up in the moment. Sometimes the emotion of the game takes over. They were yelling at me, but they were winning 10-1. I don’t know. It’s baseball.”
After striking out Andrew Davis looking, Moss issued back-to-back walks to Kellen Kulbacki and Jason Taylor to put two runners on. With a reliever warming up in the pen, Moss rallied to strike out Evan Sharpley on a 1-2 pitch to set off a bench-clearing celebration for the East Division-leading Slammers (34-26).
“It’s always a lot easier to pitch with a big lead,” Moss said. “You just go out there and throw strikes. You know you’re going to get the win. Everything was working, I was spotting up well with my fastball, and my curveball and slider were pretty good.”
The only other close call for the Crushers (28-32) came in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out, No. 8 hitter Chris Luick hit a high line drive that shortstop Brad Netzel had to leap and stretch to snag for a big out.
Moss retired the first 11 Crushers he faced before walking Davis with two outs in the fourth to thwart his bid for a perfect game. Following Davis being caught stealing, Moss actually faced the minimum hitters before walking Patrick Norris to lead off the seventh.
The Crushers used three walks and a Jason Taylor sacrifice fly to score their run in the seventh. Moss escaped further damage by striking out Sharpley looking to end the inning.
“(Moss) threw well,” Crushers manager John Massarelli said. “Someone will have to look up the astronomical odds of us and the Indians getting no-hit in the same day, while scoring a run each.”
Crushers starter Josh Roberts (6-4) struggled, getting torched for eight earned runs on 10 hits with two walks and five strikeouts in four innings.
After a 1-2-3 first, Roberts allowed home runs to All-Star MVP Erik Lis and David Fox in the second for a three-run second. He saved his worst for last, allowing Joliet to bat around and score four runs in the fourth.
The Slammers had four home runs in the game. Kyle Maunus went deep in the ninth off Robert Wendzicki, while Leeper led off the eighth with a blast off Andrew Weeks.
What was worse, allowing 10 runs or getting no-hit?
“I don’t know,” Massarelli said. “They’re both pretty bad.”
Weeks left the game shortly after the home run with an injury to his left leg. Massarelli did not have an update on his condition.
- The Crushers finally fulfilled their end of the Paul Fagan trade Wednesday, sending All-Star Nick Mahin to Windy City as the “player to be named later.” They also released rookie infielder T.J. Baumet. Mahin has been mired in a second-half slump, going hitless in his last 19 at-bats prior to the trade. His average, which had reached .340 in mid-June, was down to .269 with no home runs and 18 RBIs. Baumet batted .333 (4-for-12) with one RBI and two runs scored in seven games with the Crushers. He was on the seven-day disabled list at the time of his release.
- The Crushers already served their penalties for the bench-clearing brawl that took place last Wednesday. Both Sharpley and Rivera served their two-game suspensions during the team’s recent road trip.