The difference in this series for the Florence Y’alls came down to hitting while in scoring position.
In losses in the first two games that saw their losing streak hit six games, Florence (32-45 overall) finished 0-for-19 in those situations against the host Lake Erie Crushers (38-40). But in the 6-0 win Sunday, the Y’alls hit 4-for-10. Florence remains in seventh place in the Frontier League West Division and nine games out of the final playoff spot with 18 games left in the season.
“I thought we did a good job all series getting guys in position, just didn’t get the big hit,” said Brian White, Florence manager. “The ballpark is the complete opposite of ours (Thomas More Stadium). When you get some balls up in a pitcher’s ballpark, they’re going to be caught. We never really made that adjustment with runners in scoring position and two out. We needed a ground ball up the middle or a line drive to score those runs.”
Lake Erie opened the series Friday with a 2-0 victory. The Crushers scored their runs in the bottom of the third and eighth innings. Both runs were earned even though Florence made one of its two errors on one of the scoring plays.
Bobby Brabrand (2-5) pitched seven strong innings striking out seven, walking one and allowing six hits and one earned run. Darwin Ramos and Karl Craigie pitched the eighth inning.
Second baseman Ethan Stern led the way going 2 for 4 with a stolen base for the Y’alls.
Lake Erie starter Matt Mulhearn (4-3) pitched into the eighth inning striking out 10, walking none and allowing four hits. Nathan Holt finished the eighth and Alexis Rivero pitched the ninth to record his 13th save walking one.
Lake Erie won the Saturday match-up, 5-1 holding the Y’alls to just five hits.
The Sunday win saw Florence score one unearned run off two Crusher errors. Edgar Martinez (5-5) pitched six innings striking out seven and walking two.
The Y’alls used three relievers to finish the game. Evy Ruibal, Kent Klyman and Joe Dougherty pitched one scoreless inning each combining to strike out three and walk none.
“We just have to keep going out there and throwing zeros. That’s our mindset,” Dougherty said. “When I personally try to be real fine and try to hit spots, I don’t have as much success. I have to trust that my stuff is good enough to get outs and not being afraid to give up any contact at all. It’s really about pitching to an approximate location.”
Both teams had six hits. Right fielder Rodney Tennie and first baseman Brennan Price had doubles.
Florence broke open the game with four runs in the top of the seventh. Tennie doubled in Stern and center fielder Ray Zuberer to put the Y’alls up 4-0. Tennie then stole third and scored on a Lake Erie error.
“It was a good insurance run,” Tennie said. “Hesitating gets you thrown out all the time. I kind of got lucky (on that play). It was a bad throw. I probably would have been safe if I didn’t hesitate. I was already too far down to go back to second.”
Florence travels to Washington (Pennsylvania) for a three-game series starting Tuesday. Game time is 7:05 p.m.