AVON — Kevin Franchetti had four hits all season when he came to the plate with two out and two on in the ninth inning Sunday.
He picked a perfect time to get hit No. 5.
On a full-count after taking a close pitch that looked like strike three, Franchetti hit a looper into shallow right that fell in, scoring Anderson Hidalgo from third with the winning run as the Lake Erie Crushers pulled out a 3-2 win over the Evansville Otters at All Pro Freight Stadium.
Only 857 fans — the fewest in franchise history — saw the dramatic finish, however.
Still, the win was the Crushers’ fourth in their last at-bat this season and snapped losing streaks of three at home and two overall. It also prevented what could have been the first series sweep by an opponent this season.
“It feels pretty good (to get my first walk-off hit),” said Franchetti, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI. “It’s even better to finally get a win out of this series. We were down 0-2 and we didn’t want to get swept.
“I was just looking to put the ball in play in that situation.”
With the game tied at 2 in the bottom of the ninth, Anderson Hidalgo led off with a walk, went to second on a Juan Sanchez sacrifice and took third on pinch hitter Emmanuel Quiles’ groundout to first.
Evansville closer Orlando Santos (1-2) then walked Brian Haggett on four pitches to get to the No. 9 hitter, Franchetti, who was hitting .190 (4-for-21).
“I saw that they were pitching around Haggett a little bit, especially after he got down 2-0,” Franchetti said. “I saw that (Santos) was pumping a little bit so I was looking for a fastball to hit. He threw me a 2-2 slider so I figured 3-2, he’s going to come right after me. He definitely didn’t want to face the top of the order in that situation. I had some bad at-bats the first three times up, so it felt good to see a fastball right there and drive it to the right side.”
Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo, who signed Franchetti the day before the start of the regular season, was pleased to see his backup catcher come through.
“I wanted a backup who could potentially play every day if he had to and he’s really doing a fantastic job catching,” Mongiardo said. “It was nice to see him get the big hit today, but I’m really happy with the way he’s been catching. He’s been doing a great job with our pitchers.”
Sunday starter Jose Rosario is a perfect example. While Rosario didn’t factor in the decision, he pitched 5⅓ scoreless innings, scattering four hits and two walks, while striking out four. He lowered his ERA from 2.07 to 1.43 in the process.
“Rosario really bounced back after his last outing,” Mongiardo said. “Even though he was on a day-short rest, this is really the first time he’s been on a regular routine and he really pitched a great game. He came out and threw strikes with the fastball and, while he didn’t have a feel for his breaking ball, he commanded the fastball and did a great job.”
Franchetti talked with Rosario before the game and they mapped out a game plan.
“He wanted the big target to start off with and he wanted it down a bit,” Franchetti said. “I think he threw all fastballs the first three innings and then we mixed in a change-up in the fourth inning. But he was on. When a pitcher’s in a rhythm like that, I feel it’s my responsibility to keep him in that rhythm. He definitely set the tone for today. He did an excellent job.”
Vincent Mejia gave the Crushers (12-7) their first lead of the series with a two-out RBI double in the sixth. He scored on a pinch-hit single by Hidalgo.
Reliever Zac Treece gave the lead back, however, when John Schultz hit a two-out, two-run double in the top of the seventh.
But the Crushers, who struck out 10 times and were held to five hits by four Evansville pitchers, somehow found a way to win.
- Tuesday’s game against Normal is “Ten-Cent Hog Dog Night.” All hot dogs will be sold for just a dime all game long. It’s the first of two such promotions this season, the other set for Aug. 10.
- Tuesday should also mark the return of Crushers veteran Andrew Davis to the lineup. Mongiardo said he expects the doctors to clear Davis before the game.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Lake Erie vs. Normal
WHEN: Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon
PITCHERS: Kibby (2-1, 2.38 ERA) vs. MacDonald (1-0, 1.99)