Unless the Washington and Lake Erie meet in the playoffs, the Crushers’ Andrew Davis has played his final game against the Wild Things.
A noted Wild Things killer throughout his career, the 30-year-old Davis is playing his final season in the Frontier League. He will exceed the league’s age limit for players classified as Veterans before next season begins.
So Davis gave the Wild Things one final parting shot to the gut Thursday night. He hit a tiebreaking solo home run in the sixth inning and added a two-run double in his final at-bat, helping Lake Erie to a 5-2 victory at Consol Energy Park.
Davis’ home run was the 10th of his career against Washington. The former Kent State University standout went 3-for-4 and improved his batting average to .316 in 69 career games against the Wild Things.
“In six years of coming here, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad series,” Davis said. “Everyone who has been around here probably hates it. I know (Washington manager) Bart Zeller hates me, in a good way, though.
“I can’t explain why I hit well against Washington. I guess everyone has that one team that happens with and Washington is mine.”
Davis’ home run, only his second of the season after starting the year on the disabled list, came off Washington starter Alex Kaminsky (1-4), who was superb through five innings. Kaminsky retired the first 11 batters he faced and 15 of 16.
“Kaminsky was almost perfect into the sixth,” Davis said. “He has good stuff and always throws a good game.”
Then came the pivotal sixth inning, when the Crushers’ offense finally showed some life.
Juan Sanchez hit a leadoff single, and one out later Craig Hertler hit his second triple in as many nights, scoring Sanchez and cutting Washington’s lead to 2-1. Hertler tied the score when he raced home on Emmanuel Quiles’ sacrifice fly, and Davis put the Crushers ahead, 3-2, by slamming a homer over the wall in right centerfield. Washington center fielder Danny Poma made a leaping attempt to reach over the wall and pull back Davis’ home run.
“If you make a bad pitch against Davis, then he makes you pay,” Zeller said. “He’s a seasoned pro. He’s been in the league a long time.”
Davis went the opposite way with a pitch from reliever Matt Purnell in the eighth, sending it down the left-field line to the wall, scoring Sanchez and Kevin Franchetti and giving the Crushers a 5-2 lead.
“Hitting is contagious,” Davis said. “On this team, when we get a couple of hits in an inning everybody seems to get going. We’ve had about three games this year in which we put together a big inning against Washington and won the game.”
The Wild Things forged a 2-0 lead in the second inning against Lake Erie starter Matt Rein. Designated hitter Maxx Garrett and catcher Jim Vahalik each homered in a three at-bat stretch. Vahalik’s blast hit the “Think Green” sign above the batter’s eye in center field, and Garrett’s smacked off the scoreboard in left centerfield.
The Wild Things had six of their eight hits in the first four innings but scored only two runs. Garrett was thrown out at home plate in the fourth trying to score from second base on Vahalik’s single to center field, and Washington left two runners on base in both the third and fourth innings.
“We had (Rein) on the ropes,” Zeller said. “We should have scored more runs.”
Trevor Longfellow (4-2), the second of five Lake Erie pitchers was the winner. Jason Wilson pitched the ninth inning for his fifth save.
Garrett and Vahalik each had two hits. … Zeller said shortstop Ryan Kresky (sprained wrist) is still two weeks away from taking batting practice and resuming baseball activities. Kresky has been on the disabled list since June 21. … Third baseman Carter Bell missed the series because of a personal reason but is expected to rejoin the team today when it begins a weekend series at home against the Florence Freedom. … The Wild Things and Crushers will not meet again in the regular season. Lake Erie won the season series, 5-4, and outscored Washington 36-33.