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Slammers walk off in back-and-forth thriller

By Matt Gustafson
Joliet, IL – The Slammers used a little bit of magic and clutch hitting Friday to take a series-opening victory over the Lake Erie Crushers on Princess Night. 

Lake Erie (11-8) struck first with a Vincent Byrd, Jr., two-run home run to right center field in the top of the first inning, scoring Scout Knotts for a 2-0 lead. The Crushers kept the hot streak going with three singles, including a Jarrod Watkins hit through the right side to score Alfredo Gonzalez. 

The Slammers (8-11) put together a quick response when Antonio Valdez doubled to right center field in the bottom half, scoring Chris Davis. Valdez advanced to third base on the play after a fielding error by Crushers’ right fielder Jack Harris and scored one at-bat later when Matthew Warkentin grounded out to second base, making the score 3-2. 

Joliet tied the game up in the bottom of the second inning with a Chris Davis single to center field, scoring Liam McArthur to make it 3-3. 

Lake Erie retook the lead in the top of the third with a Jarrod Watkins two-run home run to right field, also scoring Ethan Skender for a 5-3 lead. The Crushers added another run in the top of the fourth when Scout Knotts singled down the right field line to score Logan Thomason, making it 6-3. 

The Slammers stormed back in the bottom of the sixth inning. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases for Antonio Valdez, who stepped up and hit a bases-clearing double down the right field line to score Jake Allgeyer, Liam McArthur and Chris Davis and even the game at 6-6. 

Lake Erie again moved ahead in the top of the eighth inning when Ethan Skender scored on a wild pitch, giving the Crushers a 7-6 lead. 

But Joliet got the last word in the bottom of the ninth. Jonathan Sierra singled through the left side to begin the rally, with Jeissy De La Cruz entering the game to pinch run. 

The move paid off when De La Cruz scored all the way from first on a Victor Nova double down the left field line, tying the game 7-7. Drew Stengren then took the crowd on a magic carpet ride and gave the Slammers a walkoff win with a single to center fielding, sending Nova home for a thrilling 8-7 victory. 

Zac Westcott allowed six earned runs across six innings, striking out six batters for Joliet. Anthony Escobar went five innings as the starter for Lake Erie, allowing three runs and striking out two. 

The Slammers will look to clinch a series victory tomorrow, Saturday, June 1, on Pride Night at Slammers Stadium. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. 

For information on season tickets, premium suites or group outings, please visit the Slammers’ official website at