AVON, Oh. – The Normal CornBelters, presented by Illinois Corn Farmers, took the lead in the sixth inning and held off the Lake Erie Crushers for a 6-4 win to complete a three-game sweep and their fourth straight victory on Sunday at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The CornBelters broke through first in the fourth inning when Santiago Chirino led off with a single followed by a double from Aaron Dudley. Chirino scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Dillon Haupt as Dudley took third on an errant throw back to the diamond, and Dudley came home on an infield single by Craig Lepre for a 2-0 advantage.
The Crushers countered in the fifth inning to take the lead as the first three hitters reached base and eventually scored. A lead-off double by Sean Hurley followed by singles from Justin Boyd and Nick Covello plated the first run, with additional runs driven in by a Parker Norris ground out and a base hit by Max Casper for a 3-2 lead.
The Belters pushed back in the sixth inning with a one-out single by Nolan Meadows, who scored from first base on a double to the left center gap by Lepre to tie the contest at 3-3.
Normal scored two unearned runs in the seventh to take a 5-3 lead. Pinch hitter Ty Morris reached on an error to lead off the frame, stole second and after a walk to Chirino came home on a single by Dudley. Chirino took third on Dudley’s knock and scored on a passed ball.
Lake Erie got one run back with a two-out solo home run to right field in the seventh inning by Connor Oliver to cut the Belter lead to 5-4.
Dudley gave the Belters insurance with an RBI single in the ninth inning, plating Justin Fletcher just ahead of the throw.
Brennan Smith took the win in relief in his CornBelters debut with one run, one hit, one walk and two strikeouts in an inning and two-thirds. Jordan McCoy (0-1) took the loss with an inning of relief, giving up two unearned runs on one hit and one walk. Casey Brown earned his first save by pitching a scoreless final two and one-third innings.
The road trip continues with a midweek series in suburban Pittsburgh as the Belters face the Washington Wild Things on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Game time is 6:05 p.m. Central each night and the games can be heard on WJBC.com beginning each evening at 5:50.