AVON — The Crushers scored six runs without doing much work, which made for an easy Tuesday night at the ballpark.
The Crushers drew five walks in the second inning with two outs, leading to an 11-batter, six-run inning and, ultimately, an 11-3 win over the Traverse City Beach Bums in front of 1,019 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium in the opener of a six-game homestand.
The Crushers (6-4, 4-0 at The Freight) wound up with nine walks, all in the first five innings as the Crushers built an 11-2 lead.
“They walked a few guys, and we took advantage of it,” Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo said. “We had good at-bats pretty much throughout the whole game. Hopefully we can put two games together and continue to have those good at-bats.”
The Crushers wound up with 11 hits to go with the 11 runs, led by big days from catcher Emmanuel Quiles (3-for-3 with his first home run, three runs and two RBIs), center fielder Craig Hertler (2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run) and rookie left fielder Adam Ford (2-for-3 with a double, two stolen bases and three runs). Ford made his professional debut.
“My friend who is a cross-checker for the Padres is the one who recommended him,” Mongiardo said of Ford, who was activated from the disabled list. “The first couple of days of spring training, before he got hurt, I was kind of wondering why he wasn’t in affiliated. He’s a gamer. He plays hard all the time. He’s gonna hit. He’s a good player.”
It was Ford who got things started for the Crushers in the second. After a line-drive double play by Seth Granger, Ford ripped a ground-rule double to right for his first pro hit. Then, with rain coming down, the wheels came off in spectacular fashion for Beach Bums starter Patrick Merkling (0-1).
He walked Quiles, Vincent Mejia and Juan Sanchez for Lake Erie’s first run. After a walk to Trevor Stevens that made it 2-0, Bums manager Dan Rohn pulled Merkling.
Reliever Rusty Shellhorn didn’t fare much better, giving up an RBI single to Hertler, a bases-loaded walk to Anderson Hidalgo and a two-run single by Ryan Hutchinson to finish off the six-run inning.
“The last three games, we were swinging at a lot of bad pitches,” Quiles said. “We got here today wanting to swing at only good pitches and take walks. Not only did we get a lot of walks, but we wound up with a lot of base hits. So we’re working at it.”
Quiles had the exclamation point in the third with a two-run homer deep in the power alley in left-center, making it 8-0. His 3-for-3 performance raised his average to .406.
“I came into the cage today working with nothing but fastballs in,” Quiles said. “When I came up, I was looking for that pitch and he gave it to me. I put a good swing on it.
“A lot of pitchers had challenged me last year with fastballs in, so I worked really hard with that pitch. Now that’s my pitch. If it’s in the zone, I’m going to drive it. If it’s not, I’ll take the walk.”
The run support helped No. 1 starter Mickey Jannis (2-1), who scattered two runs on two hits with five strikeouts and six walks in five innings.
“The only down part of those big innings is sitting on the bench,” Jannis said. “But any time you can get those kinds of runs early, it’s nice to jump out to that early lead, especially at home. That gives you some confidence. After a long inning like that, you try to get three outs as quick as possible so you can give those bats another chance to ride that momentum.”
Mongiardo went to his bullpen in the sixth inning, and it was dominant again. Brad Duffy, newly acquired Jordan McCoy and Brandon Smith combined for one run on three hits and four strikeouts in four innings.
The bullpen has only allowed two runs in 29⅔ innings, and both came at the end of blowouts.
The Crushers have a quick turnaround, with a 10:35 a.m. start for kids day. Connor Whelan will get the start for the Crushers.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.