The Florence Y’alls (33-45) had a golden opportunity to make up some ground in the Frontier League West playoff race, but could only take 1-of-3 against the Lake Erie Crushers (31-47).
The series loss leaves them 9.5 games behind the Evansville Otters (42-35) for the third and final playoff spot in the division with only 18 games to play.
Florence salvaged a win in the final game Sunday with a 5-3 win, scoring twice in the bottom of the eighth. With the bases loaded and one out, designated hitter Brennan Price walked to score second baseman Jeremiah Burks and right fielder Hank Zeisler hit a sacrifice fly to center to score catcher Nick Wimmers.
“The good thing about that was seeing the reliever for the second time,” said Chad Rhoades, Florence Manager. “I thought the guys did a really good job of hunting their zone on him, what they’re going to get and what they’re going to hit. We drew some really big walks. It was really nice to see a team win.”
Both teams had seven hits. Third baseman Brian Fuentes and shortstop Ed Johnson had two hits each. Burks, Fuentes and center fielder Ray Zuberer had doubles.
Florence starter Jake McMahill pitched six innings, striking out five and walking one. Nick Ernst pitched the seventh, striking out one before Brian McKenna (2-2) finished the game relieving Kent Klyman in the eighth, striking out two.
“The defense played really well up the middle, made some double plays,” McMahill said. “I just stayed in the zone with the fastball, trying to get ahead. I like to go in there with a blank slate and play my game. I think when I try too hard to focus on scouting reports, I go away from what works for me and get into trouble.”
Lake Erie won the first game of the series on Friday 8-3, leading 5-0 entering the bottom of the fifth. The Crushers added three in the top of the ninth to pull away.
“We had a good feeling going into it,” Rhoades said. “We gave ourselves a shot (in the first game). We had guys on seven out of nine innings. We just could get (the big hit) when we needed it.”
The Crushers outhit the Y’alls, 16-5. Johnson had a big day at the plate for the Y’alls going 3-for-4 with a home run, two runs batted in and scored twice. Zuberer added a double.
Bobby Brabrand (3-9) pitched seven innings taking the loss, striking out five and walking two. Aaron Rund pitched two innings in relief striking out one and walking two.
Lake Erie jumped all over the Y’alls on Saturday, building an 8-0 lead in the top of the third on the way to a 12-5 win. The Crushers outhit the Y’alls, 10-7. Catcher Zade Richardson led Florence going 2-for-4 with a solo home run. Price hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth and Burks belted a solo shot in the bottom of the third for the first Y’alls run.
“We’ve really been working at-bats lately,” Richardson said. “We’ve done well as a club. Guys are seeing these pitchers and forcing them to come to us. It’s spreading around the team and fun to watch right now.”
Florence starter Edgar Martinez (7-7) pitched three innings, striking out one and walking four. Christian Cosby pitched three innings in relief, striking out two and walking none before Carter Poiry finished the game.
Florence starts a three-game series against Evansville starting Tuesday at 6:32 p.m.