AVON — Baseball can be a funny game sometimes.
One week you’re hot, the next you’re not.
That’s how it’s been for Lake Erie. Just after setting a franchise-best 11-game winning streak, the Crushers have dropped five straight, including a 4-3, 10-inning setback Saturday to Schaumburg.
“We’ve got to get off this bad streak we’re on,” Crushers manager Jeff Isom said. “We’ve got to find a way to win. They’re all key games right now when you’re coming down the final stretch. We need a ‘W’ to get that swagger back we had last week.
“It was only last week we rolled off 11 in a row and all of a sudden it’s five (losses) in a row.”
Lake Erie remains in first place in the East Division of the Frontier League, but its lead has been trimmed to just one game as Traverse City defeated Normal, 5-2, on Saturday for its second win in a row.
“Bottom line is making sure we take care of business with two outs when guys are at the plate,” Isom said. “I think three of their four runs were with two outs. We’ve just got to make sure we get that third out.”
Schaumburg’s Steve McQuail, who had fanned three of his four times at the plate, slapped a double down the first-base line to bring home Sean Mahley all the way from first base to break the 3-3 tie in the top of the 10th inning.
Mahley drew a walk after two were out — one coming courtesy of a great throw by catcher Emmanuel Quiles to nail Jordan Dean trying to steal after he led off with a single to center.
The Boomers, 53-33 and leaders in the West Division, took advantage of the only error of the night to score twice in the fourth inning and build the lead to 3-1 when McQuail’s fly to center dropped in front of Seth Granger, who apparently lost track of it in the lights. McQuail scored on Ty Nelson’s single.
“We gave them a couple runs early on,” Isom said. “The mistake at third base and we lose one in the twilight. Those come back to bite you when you’re playing a good team.”
Lake Erie looked to have the formula for snapping out of its losing ways with lefty Matt Rein on the mound. The Crushers jumped in front with a run in the first inning and tied the game in the eighth with a two-run rally, but couldn’t quite get the job done.
Good pitching by Schaumburg had a lot to do with it. Starter Chris Phelan survived a rocky start to settle in and hold Lake Erie at bay through seven innings and Dexter Price came in to shut down the Crushers to close out the eighth, ninth and 10th innings. Price struck out five of the seven batters he faced to pick up his sixth win.
The Crushers opened the game with Craig Hertler’s single down the third-base line and Seth Granger’s run-scoring double to right, but Phelan retired the next three in order and remained solid from there until the eighth.
Granger doubled with one out and Daniel Bowman tripled when right fielder Ty Nelson, normally a catcher, fell down trying to field Bowman’s slicing drive down the line. With two out, Russell Moldenhauer singled up the middle off left-hander Adam Tollefson — brought in to specifically match up with the left-handed hitting first baseman. That tied the game but Price came on to slam the door and keep it closed over the final two innings.
“That was a pretty good pitcher we faced (Phelan),” Isom said. “He’s the No. 1 pitcher in the league and it was a great pitching matchup all night. We ended up getting three earned runs off him. We came up with the big single by Moldenhauer in the eighth inning to tie it up. That was the encouraging thing — we didn’t give in.
“Unfortunately, we made a mistake there in the top of the 10th. I liked our chances if we put up a zero. We got the top of our lineup coming up.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Erie Crushers vs. Schaumburg Boomers
PITCHERS: Middendorf (10-7, 2.89) vs. Giovenco (8-6, 3.83)
WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon
RADIO: WEOL 930-AM