AVON — Todd Kibby has quickly emerged as the ace of the Lake Erie Crushers pitching staff.
Time and time again, whenever the Crushers needed a big pitching performance, Kibby delivered.
Unfortunately for the Crushers, Monday was not one of those nights.
Kibby gave up four runs in six innings and the offense took a while to get going as the Crushers fell 6-3 to the Frontier Greys at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Crushers (29-26) have dropped the first game in eight straight series, while the Greys (18-38) picked up their second win in four games against Lake Erie.
“He’s won with the same type of stuff,” Crushers manager Chris Mongiardo said of Kibby. “He usually doesn’t get upset out there. It seemed like he was off a bit tonight. Stuff-wise, it wasn’t his best, but it wasn’t awful either, you know? He just gave up some runs, and we didn’t hit.
“We came out a little flat tonight. They outplayed us.”
This was also the first Monday game of the season for the Crushers. Prior to this week, Monday had been the Frontier League’s day off.
“I don’t think it played into it because they were tired or anything,” Mongiardo said. “We’ve only played three games in a row, so I’d hope not. They should be used to playing six games in a row at this point. But we’ve always had Monday off, so maybe they have it in their head that this is the normal day off. I don’t know.
“It shouldn’t be because we played 10 games in a row or anything, but (playing on the Monday) could be a reason.”
Kibby (5-2) didn’t retire the side in order until the sixth, his final inning.
Three straight singles to open the third resulted in the first two Greys runs, although one scored when third baseman Anderson Hidalgo dropped a potential pickoff throw from catcher Emmanuel Quiles. Chris Ellison drove in the first of his two runs on the next pitch with an RBI single to center.
It stayed 2-0 until the fifth. Kibby walked Cameron Munger on four pitches to start the inning, and Ellison followed by drilling the first pitch into the power alley in left-center for an RBI triple. Ellison scored two batters later on a groundout to first, increasing the Greys lead to 4-0.
The Crushers didn’t have a problem getting runners on base. The problem was getting those runners home. They left 11 runners on base and put at least one runner on in seven of the nine innings.
Despite the struggles, Lake Erie made things interesting in the ninth inning against reliever Cameron Lamb. Trailing 6-2, the Crushers scored on a sacrifice fly by Andrew Davis and had two on with Quiles, the tying run, at the plate.
Quiles, after fouling off several pitches, drilled a shot between third and second. However, Greys shortstop Chase Tucker made a terrific diving stop and was able to throw out Hidalgo at second for the game-ending force.
“Quiles put a good swing on it and the guy made a great play,” Mongiardo said. “He hit it pretty hard, too, and it was a diving play. It was encouraging to see us threaten in the ninth, and had that ball gotten through, with (Vincent) Mejia up, it could have gotten interesting.”
Davis had his best game in a while, going 2-for-3 with a double, a run and an RBI. He got the Crushers on the board in the fifth after hitting a double with one out, taking third on a passed ball and scoring on Hidalgo’s groundout to second.
The Crushers signed rookie catcher P.J. Torres and released infielder Matt Dickason prior to Monday’s game. Torres was undrafted after a four-year career at Austin Peay, where he batted .248 with 22 home runs and 109 RBIs overall. Dickason hit just .154 with three RBIs in 15 games with the Crushers.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Lake Erie Crushers vs. Frontier Greys
WHERE: All Pro Freight Stadium, Avon
PITCHERS: Treece (2-2, 2.31 ERA) vs. Belcastro (0-0, 0.00)