AVON — The Lake Erie Crushers didn’t have a problem getting the first two outs in each inning Thursday night.
Crushers' pitcher Mike Devine (25) pitches against the Southern Illinois Miners on Thursday evening, Aug. 4.
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It was that dreaded third out that proved to be problematic for starter Mike Devine in a 13-5 loss to the Frontier League-leading Southern Illinois Miners in front of 2,049 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Miners scored 10 of their 13 runs with two outs, including a four-run rally in the sixth that essentially put the game out of reach for the Crushers.
The Crushers (30-38) lost for the sixth time in seven games and has won once at home in six games since the All-Star Break, falling to 17-16 at The Freight. The Miners (46-22) ended their road trip with a 3-3 record and captured the season series, 4-2.
“One of the things I preach is if you miss, miss down,” Crushers manager Cameron Roth said. “Mike Devine is one of those guys who facilitates that kind of philosophy. He can sink it well, but tonight, there were a couple of times where I don’t think his slider was his best. … He might not have had his best stuff tonight, but he’s a competitor. Tonight, it was just mistakes that (the Miners) took advantage of.”
The Miners had eight doubles among their 17 hits, including two apiece from Craig Massey and Alex De Leon. Massey, who had five RBIs in a 3-for-4 performance, was one of four Miners who had multiple RBIs.
Trailing 5-4 after three innings, the Miners scored three runs with two outs in the fourth, keyed by three straight hits. A two-run double by Massey was the big blow.
The Miners added four more runs in the sixth on five straight two-out hits that ultimately chased Devine (7-5) from the game.
When the dust settled from those innings, the Crushers found themselves in an 11-5 hole they could never crawl out of.
“When he made a mistake, they took advantage of it,” Roth said. “And it seemed like a lot of mistakes came when there were two outs.”
Offensively, the Crushers had 10 hits and scored five runs in the second inning. They sent nine men to the plate in the second and had five hits and one walk. The big hits were two-run doubles from Brandon Costantino and leadoff man Robb Paller.
But the Crushers could never generate any more runs after that. They left two on in the fourth and sixth and left the bases loaded in the seventh.
“Offensively, we went off to a good start and I thought we swung the bats pretty well all game,” Roth said. “When you get 10 hits and score five runs, you usually put yourselves in a pretty good position to win a baseball game. There’s some good things to come from that, but you have to piece both (pitching and hitting) together. That’s what great teams do, and that obviously didn’t happen for us tonight.”
Heading into the last month of the season, the Crushers find themselves tied for fifth in the division, but seven games off the lead and six off the wild card. Roth knows the time is now if the Crushers have a run left in them.
“We’re not out of it whatsoever,” Roth said. “We’re still within range of the division and the wild card. Anything can happen. One of the years I was in Schaumburg, we went 25-4 in August and clinched a spot, so anything can happen. You have to be optimistic, and we have a ton of talented guys on this team that know that.”
The Crushers released outfielder Justin Byrd after the game. Byrd was batting .173 with four RBIs in 23 games. They have not made a corresponding move, leaving the active roster at 23.
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or email@example.com