Baseball: ThunderBolts blank Lake Erie Crushers 9-0
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media August 27, 2013 10:02PM
Updated: September 29, 2013 6:45AM
Some tough losses on last week’s road trip brought the Windy City ThunderBolts closer to being officially eliminated from the Frontier League playoff race. That doesn’t mean the T-Bolts aren’t determined to close out the season in style.
Opening the final three-game home series of the year Tuesday night, Windy City rolled over the East Division-leading Lake Erie Crushers 9-0 at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood.
Markus Solbach threw the first complete-game shutout of his career while all nine T-Bolts hitters scored and seven provided RBI in the laugher.
“The whole last month, we’ve really turned it around offensively,” Windy City’s Mike Torres said. “We’ve been able to pick each other up.
“We have a bunch of guys that enjoy the game, so coming out and playing baseball is the easy part. We’ve had some tough losses, but that’s no excuse not to finish strong.”
Windy City (44-44), which will try to top the .500 mark for the first time this season Wednesday, moved to four games out of the final playoff spot with eight left, though five teams are ahead of them in the crowded chase for the last postseason berth.
Solbach (4-1) struck out seven and scattered seven hits while not allowing a walk as he threw the second complete-game shutout of the season for Windy City. Daniel Cropper tossed the first July 14 against Normal.
Solbach did not allow more than one runner on base at the same time until the ninth, when Lake Erie (51-37) put runners at second and third with one out. Solbach got a popout and a groundout to end the game.
“It feels great,” Solbach said. “I’ve still got adrenaline going. Everything was working. I was just pounding the zone, and they were swinging at good pitches.”
The T-Bolts got on the board first in the third, scoring twice with help from two errors. Chase Tucker walked, moved to third on a single by Evan Button (3-for-4) and scored on an error. Button came home on Torres’ base hit.
Chad Cregar started the bottom of the fourth by blasting his fourth home run in as many days off the pitch speed sign in right-center field for a 3-0 lead.
Cregar has hit a team-high eight round-trippers, seven coming in August after injuries and struggles at the plate contributed to his hitting just one prior to this month.
Windy City broke it wide open in the sixth, sending 10 men to the plate and scoring five times.
Torres (2-for-5) singled, stole second and scored on a base hit by Zach Aakhus (2-for-3) before Doug Joyce delivered a two-run single. Jayce Ray (2-for-3) added a sacrifice fly and Tucker provided an RBI single to make it 8-0.
It all added up to the worst start of the season for Lake Erie’s Matt Smith, who allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits in 51/3 innings. He struck out five and walked four.
In the eighth, Ray singled, moved to second on Tucker’s groundout and scored on Button’s single to become the ninth Windy City hitter to score in the 9-0 game.