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Slammers go down swinging in home opener Tuesday

5/20/2015, 9:15 a.m.
Although the team started warming up after the fourth inning, it wasn't enough to knock off the Lake Erie Crushers.
The house was packed for the Joliet Slammers' Tuesday home opener against the Lake Erie Crushers. Courtesy of Joliet Slammers

The Joliet Slammers provided this account of Tuesday night's season opener at Silver Cross Field:

After being down 5-0 in the fourth inning, the Joliet Slammers (0-4) whittled away at the Lake Erie Crushers (2-2) lead, only to come up short after a close play at home cost the them a tying run.

The Crushers grabbed momentum early against pitcher David Kubiak. Leadoff hitter 2B Trevor Stevens doubled on the game’s first pitch, and was later driven in on a one-out base knock by 3B Anderson Hidalgo, who advanced to second on the throw home. With one out, the cleanup hitter, RF Joey Burney, singled to rate to plate Hidalgo, giving the Crushers a 2-0 lead before Kubiak escaped the inning.

After the Slammers put the leadoff hitters on in the second and third innings, but were unable to cash in against hurler Hunter Adkins, the Crushers pushed across three runs in the third. Catcher Ty Nelson and LF Justin Cuerton reached on back-to-back singles with one out, and Stevens walked to load the bases. That brought up SS Juan Sanchez, who cleared the bags with a double before being tagged out trying to stretch his two-bagger into a triple. The hit gave the Crushers the 5-0 lead.

The Slammers began chipping away at the advantage in the bottom of the fourth inning. DH Russell Moldenhauer reached with a one out single. A botched ground ball by Hidalgo put SS Alfredo Rodriguez on, moving Moldenhauer to second. With two outs, C Jack Cleary singled to drive in Moldenhaur getting the Slammers on the board while moving Rodriguez to second. Another error by Hidalgo allowed Rodriguez to come around, cutting the Crushers lead to 5-2.

The Slammers followed their two-run fourth with a one-run fifth after some sloppy defense by their opponents. Roberts led off with a walk and quickly stole second. With two outs and a runner on second, Moldenhauer hit what appeared to be a routine ground ball to short. Sanchez rushed the throw, however, tossing the ball behind the first baseman. Roberts came around to score on the error, making it 5-3.

Joliet scored one more run in the seventh. With Tyler Marshburn on in relief, Roberts led off with a single and 1B Chris Serritella followed with a base-knock. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch, putting two in score position for Moldenhauer. He singled to center against Mike Devine, driving in Roberts, and Seritella motored towards home hoping to score the games tying run. The throw from center arrived at home just as Serritella was sliding towards the plate, and he was called out on the bang-bang play.

Relief pitcher Andrew Stenge, our Merchants and Manufacturers Bank Player of the Game, kept the Crushers from adding onto their 5-4 lead by pitching scoreless eighth and ninth innings. He allowed no runs on two hits while fanning six in five shutout frames. The Slammers threatened in the ninth inning, as Roberts reached to leadoff the inning. But Serritella grounded into a double play and 3B Mike Garza was retired to end the game. Joliet is back in action at 10:05am on Wednesday with the live game stream at http://www.jolietslammers.com/gameday/slammervision/.