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Sports

Crushers sweep Boomers behind back-to-back shutouts

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    Crushers starter Stetson Nelson delivers a pitch in Game 1 of a doubleheader Sunday against the Boomers at All Pro Freight Stadium. Nelson threw a two-hit shutout and Steve Hagen followed with a one-hit shutout in Game 2 as the Crushers swept.

    KRISTIN BAUER / CHRONICLE

  • 1-Lake-Erie-Crushers-8-Connor-Oliver-runs-down-a-flyball-from-his-centerfield-postion-August-14-photo-Joe-Colon-jpg

    Center fielder Connor Oliver runs down a fly ball for the Crushers in a game Sunday against the Boomers.

    JOE COLON/CHRONICLE

  • 3-Lake-Erie-Crushers-1-Brendan-Costantino-makes-the-tough-throw-to-get-the-out-August-14-photo-Joe-Colon-jpg

    Brendan Costantino throws to get the out for the Crushers in a game Sunday.

    JOE COLON/CHRONICLE

  • 4-Lake-Erie-Crushers-30-Bryan-DeLaRosa-makes-the-play-from-his-catcher-postion-to-get-the-out-August-14-photo-Joe-Colon-jpg

    Catcher Bryan DeLaRosa makes a play for the Crushers against the Boomers on Sunday.

    JOE COLON/CHRONICLE

  • 5-Lake-Erie-Crushers-30-Bryan-DeLaRosa-with-a-stand-up-double-to-drive-in-a-run-August-14-photo-Joe-Colon-jpg

    Bryan DeLaRosa doubles for the Crushers on Sunday.

    JOE COLON/CHRONICLE

  • 6-Lake-Erie-Crushers-16-Jose-Barraza-avoids-the-tag-as-he-slides-safely-after-stealing-second-base-August-14-photo-Joe-Colon-jpg

    Jose Barraza avoids the tag as he slides safely into second base for the Crushers on Sunday.

    JOE COLON/CHRONICLE

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AVON — Crushers right-hander Stetson Nelson opened Sunday’s twi-night doubleheader with a two-hit, seven-inning 2-0 shutout over Schaumburg.

Impressive, huh?

Well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Steve Hagen followed Nelson with an even better performance.

Hagen (5-5) held the Boomers to just one hit in seven innings, striking out 10 and walking three in a 4-0 blanking in front of 1,759 fans at All Pro Freight Stadium.

“It definitely motivates you when one of your teammates does well, especially when he throws a complete-game shutout two-hitter,” Hagen said. “It’s really impressive. I think he attacked the zone a little bit better than I did. It was a great day for the team.”

Nelson’s performance set the tone for the doubleheader sweep and the series victory for Lake Erie (35-43).

The Crushers have won three of their last four games and improve to 2-1 in the season-long nine-game homestand.

It’s the Crushers’ first home win streak since they took three straight from the Joliet Slammers on July 8-10 and improves them to 5-4 in the season series against Schaumburg (34-45).

It was not only the first complete games for the pitching duo, but also their first shutouts of the year. It’s the first complete games since Todd Kibby tossed one against Traverse City, a 5-1 seven-inning loss on May 28.

“Steve is an All-Star in this league, and he’s done a great job for us, although he ran into a rough patch after the break,” Crushers manager Cameron Roth said. “He made some adjustments and kept the ball down. He had three pitches in the zone and they were all down. His fastball was good today and he wasn’t missing over the plate.

“Nelson was the same way. When those two things combine, it’s tough to win for the other guys. They were both cruising and they did a good job keeping our defense in it, although Hagen a little less so because of his strikeouts. Phenomenal job by both pitchers.”

Nelson (5-6) struck out four and didn’t walk anyone. He gave up a lead-off single to Kenny Towns and didn’t allow another until a one-out single from Mark Nelson in the top of the seventh and final inning.

“Having the extra day of rest yesterday (due to the rainout) helped me prepare mentally a bit more,” Nelson said. “I was able to work my fastball in and out today, My two-seamer was running in, and I kept them off-balance by mixing it in-and-out. I think that was the key to my game.”

The Crushers, meanwhile, were getting no-hit by Seth Webster (7-7) through three innings. He retired the first 11 batters before Connor Oliver ripped a two-out double down the right-field line. Oliver scored when a grounder from Jose Barraza went right through shortstop Nick Oberg’s legs for a big error, giving the Crushers a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, Richard Seigel led off with a single. He stole second and scored on a one-out double to left-center from Bryan De La Rosa, increasing the lead to 2-0.

Those were the only three hits the Crushers hit off Webster, but it proved to be enough.

“I thought Seth Webster threw the hell out of the baseball,” Roth said. “I haven’t seen him in over a month, but he kept the ball down and changed speeds. We were able to scratch a few runs off of him, and when you’re facing Seth Webster, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

In the second game, the Crushers’ offense didn’t take as long to get going off of Steve Schultz (4-5). Eric Grabe drilled a two-run home run — his fourth of the season — to left field to give his team a 2-0 lead after two innings. In the third, Oliver led off with a solo homer — his 12th — that hit the bottom of the scoreboard beyond the right-field wall. That blast made it 3-0 after three.

Lake Erie tacked on an additional run in the fourth on a bases-loaded sac fly from Brandon Costantino. From there, it was all Hagen.

The only hit Hagen allowed came with two outs in the third — a single up the middle from Towns. Towns had two of his team’s three hits.

Hagen ended his day by striking out two and coaxing a lineout to first after walking the lead-off man in the seventh.

“My sinker was working today, so I was able to be pretty aggressive with it,” Hagen said. “I was able to get away with all three of my pitches, so it made it lot easier to work. And with Grabe and (Max) Casper behind me (at short and second), that is a great luxury to have. They make all of our jobs a lot easier.”

Notable

The Crushers made a few roster moves prior to Sunday’s action.

They traded their first-round pick in the upcoming Frontier League Draft to the Boomers for pitcher Josh Heddinger. Heddinger was 2-4 with a 5.64 ERA with the Boomers in 10 appearances (nine starts).

They also moved pitcher Keegan Ghidotti to the 60-day disabled list, effectively ending his season, and granted pitcher Mike Devine his release. Devine signed with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association. They also signed rookie left-handed pitcher Jeff Dally and moved pitcher Kolby Moore to the 60-day DL.

Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or dangilles73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanGilles1973.

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