AVON — The new kid fit right in.
Crushers pitcher Sean Johnson, signed Thursday night, was dominant Friday in a 5-1 win over Joliet at Sprenger Stadium.
Johnson, who had an 0-2 record in nine games with Gateway this season before joining the Napa Silverados of the Pacific Association, allowed just three hits and one unearned run in six innings, striking out nine and walking just one.
He threw just 77 pitches in his Crushers debut as the team snapped a three-game losing streak.
“It felt great, just getting back on the mound in the Frontier League felt good,” Johnson said. “It was nothing but exciting … these are the moments you live for as a baseball player, to come out here and compete every day.”
The Crushers lived up to their name offensively with 10 hits, seven for extra bases. Dale Burdick gave the Crushers (39-35) a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second with his ninth home run of the season.
It was a lead they would never relinquish.
Joliet (31-44) scored its only run on a controversial play in the top of the sixth. Riley Krane led off by flying out to Brody Wofford in right field. Wofford, after the catch, tried to flip the ball behind his back to center fielder Steven Kraft, who dropped it. The base umpire did not see the catch and Krane ended up at second via the two-base error on Wofford. He scored on a Dash Winningham groundout.
The Crushers put the game away with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Johnson (1-2) allowed just three hits.
“He was throwing well in the Pacific Association in Napa, and there was some interest from scouts,” Crushers manager Cam Roth said. “He’s a guy that’s been in this league before in a different role, out of the bullpen, and I think he’s more comfortable as a starter.
“He was as advertised.”
Johnson is thrilled to be back in the Frontier League.
“This is all I can ask for,” he said. “Any opportunity that presents itself you have to take advantage of and give your best shot. If it doesn’t work out it doesn’t, but if it does you’re having a pretty good day.”
Kraft led Lake Erie’s extra-base hit barrage with three double, while Emmanuel Marrero added three hits, including a pair of doubles.
Kraft said the Crushers needed a win after losing three in a row at Evansville that reduced their lead in the East Division to one game over Schaumburg.
“It was very important because it’s a tight race on this side,” Kraft said. “All these games matter down the stretch so this was a big win tonight.
“We were seeing (the ball) well. Sometimes you just swing the bat and good things happen.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.