AVON, Ohio — The Lake Erie Crushers jumped out to a 5-0 lead, then had to hang on for a 5-4 win over the Traverse City Beach Bums on Sunday, the Crushers’ second win over Traverse City in as many games.
The Beach Bums (40-28) tried to rally with two runs in the sixth and two more in the ninth, but Matt Howard was stranded on second with the tying run.
The loss was Traverse City’s fourth in the last five games. The Beach Bums saw their lead in the East Division shrink to two games.
Jake Sabol (7-5) took the loss for the Beach Bums. Over five innings Sabol gave up nine hits and five runs, with one walk allowed. Chris Squires and Matt Miller combined to work three innings and held the Crushers (37-30) scoreless as the Beach Bums mounted their rally.
Matt Smith was the winning pitcher for Lake Erie, scattering seven hits in 5.1 innings. He allowed the first two Beach Bums runs before being replaced by Mickey Jannis, who gave up Traverse City’s two runs in the ninth. Jordan Wellender came on and got the final two outs to secure the victory.
Zach Kometani went 3-for-4 to lead Traverse City at the plate. Sean Gusrang was 2-for-3 and Chris Cowell went 2-for-4. Gusrang started the ninth-inning surge with a double, then scored on a double by Cowell. When Ryan Still grounded out to first for the second out of the inning that allowed Cowell to come home.
Kometani came home with Traverse City’s first run of the game when he singled and came around on Chase Burch’s double and an RBI groundout by Carlo Testa. Cowell singled two batters later to score Burch.
Lake Erie, which has won four in a row, is only 2 1/2 games behind Traverse City in the East. Florence also is 2 1/2 back, with Southern Illinois just a half-game ahead of those two teams. The Crushers will go for the sweep tonight when they send Alex Kaminsky (5-5) to the hill. Michael Devine (5-1) gets the start for the Beach Bums.