There still may be a week left in July, but the Washington Wild Things earned a much-needed 6-3 victory over the Lake Erie Crushers on Thursday evening to avoid a three-game sweep and keep themselves in wild card contention.
Washington (25-32) jumped out to an early 4-1 lead through two innings thanks to a three-run home run by David Popkins in the first and a solo home run in the second by Lee Orr. They then added two more in the fourth against Crushers starter Brad Zambron (2-4) when two runs scored on an fielding error by Lake Erie first basemen Emmanuel Quiles.
The six Wild Things runs were plenty for Luke Wilkins (5-2), who allowed one earned run — three total — in 6.2 innings while allowing seven hits.
Wilkins gave up his only earned run in the first when he allowed a lead off single, one out double and RBI ground out. He then retired the next 14-of-15 hitters before experiencing trouble in the sixth.
With two out, Wilkins allowed a single and a ground ball that shortstop Austin Wobrock bobbled to extend the inning.
The Crushers (23-31) took advantage of the miscue with back-to-back RBI singles to cut the lead to 6-3, but Wilkins shut the door with a soft ground out to second to end the inning.
“I thought Luke did a great job,” said Wild Things manager Bob Bozzuto. “He had to throw a couple extra pitches in the sixth, but the bottom line is that he did a great job out there.”
Lake Erie had one final shot to come back in the seventh when they loaded the bases with two out against Steve Messner, but the reliever got a strikeout looking to end the threat.
“It was nice to get some runs on the board early and limit them to one in the first,” said Bozzuto. “We got the job done. We made it a little interesting, but it was good.”
The win brings the Wild Things to within 6 1/2 of the final Frontier League wild card spot with five weeks to play in the season.
Washington now takes to the road for a three-game series at Evansville.
(WAS) Wilkins (W, 5-2): 6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 K’s. 93 Pitches (63 Strikes).
(LE) Zambron (L, 2-4): 5.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K’s, 1 HBP, 1 WP, 2 HR. 86 Pitches (55 Strikes).
(Photo Credit: Washington Wild Things)