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Baseball: Slammers can’t solve Lake Erie Crushers, fall 9-3

Updated: September 15, 2014 5:32PM



From this point last season to the end, the Joliet Slammers managed just six wins and finished 38-57.

If the 2014 Slammers expect to improve on that record, it’ll take better starting pitching down the stretch in the final 19 games.

A portion of that challenge falls to left-hander Matt Crim, who was part of last month’s trade that sent .300 hitter Marquis Riley to the Southern Illinois Miners.

Unlike his previous start, a road win Aug. 7 against Evansville, Crim was in trouble from the start Wednesday night against Lake Erie. The 27-year-old South Carolina native allowed seven runs in the first three innings and the Crushers cruised to a 9-3 win at Silver Cross Field.

The early barrage included a grand slam by Craig Hertler in the second inning. Two of those baserunners reached on walks.

Lake Erie added two more runs off Crim on consecutive hits in the third — a single, triple and another single — for a 7-0 cushion.

Joliet (29-48) has lost nine of its last 12 games and is 9-17 since the All-Star break. The Slammers need a win Thursday to avoid dropping 20 games under .500.

Lake Erie (44-32) has won six in a row, the longest current win streak in the Frontier League. The top six teams qualify for the postseason, and the Crushers have the seventh-best record at this point.

Base hits by former Crushers Russell Moldenhauer and Max Casper were Joliet’s only hits through the first six innings. Moldenhauer singled again in the seventh and clubbed a two-run homer in the ninth.

Third baseman Grant DeBruin was given a day off for the first time this season, leaving Moldenhauer as the only Slammer who has played in all 77 games.

DeBruin’s .352 batting average was third in the league going into Wednesday’s games with a league-leading 107 hits.

Joliet left-hander Matt Costello (0-0, 3.48) is scheduled to make his first start in the series finale at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Silver Cross Field. Costello has made three relief appearances for the Slammers since being signed July 30 as a free agent.

Joliet, next-to-last in the West Division, plays a weekend road series against the Florence Freedom in Florence, Kentucky. Florence is next-to-last in the East Division.

The Slammers return to Silver Cross Field next week for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday games against Rockford, the team above Joliet in the West.



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