AVON — Crushers manager Jeff Isom surprised his team with karaoke in the clubhouse following batting practice Saturday. The goal was to loosen everyone up after watching them press offensively the past few games.
Turns out the Crushers were singing a sad tune anyway after yet another one-run loss.
Despite getting a one-run lead in the first, Vermilion grad Adam Beach allowed three runs in his final two innings and the Crushers couldn’t generate the clutch hit, falling 3-2 to the River City Rascals in front of 1,913 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Crushers, who fell to 31-29 and 20-5 when they score first, dropped their second game in a row and end their six-game homestand at 3-3.
“The guys looked a lot looser at the plate and they put together some good swings, but things just aren’t falling our way,” Crushers manager Jeff Isom said. “The guys are in a bit of a funk, there’s no question. We swung at some balls and hit them hard, but (River City) made some great plays.
“We had our opportunities, but we’ve just got to cash in. We’ve got to get somebody hot. It seems like a reoccurring theme, especially on this homestand. We’ve just got to get guys their timing back and get back to the form we had when we were leading the league in hitting in the first half.”
Saturday was the Crushers’ ninth one-run game in their last 13. They’re 8-5 during that span.
“We’ve got the right guys, there’s no question,” Isom said. “But these guys are pressing and trying to do too much.
“They’ve just got to relax and put good swings on pitches and put them in play (and) see what happens.”
River City (29-31) scored its first two runs with two outs against Beach (1-1), making his third start with the Crushers, all at The Freight, and the go-ahead run with one out in the top of the fifth.
In the fourth, Beach put two men on with a single and a walk with one out. After coaxing a groundout to short, he surrendered a groundball single up the middle by Sean Borman on a 3-2 pitch, scoring both runners to tie the game at 2.
In the fifth, after retiring the leadoff hitter, Beach hit Johnny Morales, then gave up back-to-back singles to Phil Wunderlich and Danny Canela. Canela’s hit drove in Morales to make it 3-2 and ended Beach’s night after just 4⅓ innings.
“He’s a guy that has to be able to throw pitches in the strike zone and then stay in the strike zone,” Isom said. “It seems like he either goes ahead or falls behind right away. When he gets ahead, he will try to deviate and get them to swing at something out of the zone, and when he falls behind, he gets himself hurt getting into hitter’s counts.”
The Crushers jumped on top with two runs in the second on an RBI groundout by Emmanuel Quiles, who had to leave the game in the sixth with an injured hand. Wes Meadows also had a an RBI single off Craig Goodman (4-3).
But Goodman recovered to retire 13 batters in a row before the Crushers threatened in the seventh and eighth.
Lake Erie put two runners on in both innings, but couldn’t get a run across. In the seventh, with runners on the corners with one out, backup catcher David Roney couldn’t get a bunt down and struck out. Meadows followed with a foul popout.
In the eighth, Craig Hertler had a two-out single, followed by an error on a fielder’s choice grounder by Seth Granger. But Andrew Davis tapped a 3-2 pitch back to the mound to end the threat.
“That was the difference in the ballgame,” Isom said. “We had opportunities with two outs, especially the one in the eighth where we have two on and Davis is ahead in the count, 3-0, and we wind up with a groundball back to the mound.
“They took advantage of their two-out hits and we didn’t.”
In the ninth, two more great defensive plays by Rascals center fielder Curran Redal took away potential big hits by Daniel Bowman and Russell Moldenhauer.
Moldenhauer was 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored playing in place of Anderson Hidalgo, who was a late scratch due to back spasms.
“Moldenhauer had a pretty good game after he had been scuffling the last few days,” Isom said. “I thought that last one was going to fall in but their center fielder has made some nice plays that entire series. If any of those balls fall in today’s game or (Friday’s), we’re talking about two wins.”
Isom juggled the rotation, moving Beach up on three days’ rest to allow left-hander Matt Rein to start today’s game at Evansville. Historic Bosse Field, which was where the movie “A League of Their Own” was filmed, has a white building beyond the right-field wall, which makes left-handers more effective because the ball is hard to spot. Matt Smith and Mickey Jannis will start for the Crushers in Monday’s doubleheader.
* The Crushers will have Tuesday off before starting another six-game homestand Wednesday against Washington and Traverse City .
* Former Indian Joe Charboneau will be at Thursday’s game. Charboneau, the 1980 AL Rookie of the Year, was a hitting coach for Isom at Canton and Washington from 1999-2002.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Lake Erie vs. Evansville
TIME: 5:05 p.m.
WHERE: Bosse Field, Evansville, Ind.