Erie MLN: Putting In Overtime

As the summer kicks into full swing, so too have the long nights at the ballpark for the Erie SeaWolves. Members of the SeaWolves have been putting in extra hours, as three of Erie's last seven games have gone deep into extra innings. The Wolves have shown grit in these contests, as they have tallied a 2-1 record in these games.

In the last week, Wolves have recorded a 3-2 overall mark after registering wins in series against the Trenton Thunder and Bowie Baysox, as well as a 6-3 win in a series opener against the Richmond Flying Squirrels Monday.

With the win, the SeaWolves moved out of the cellar, with a 20-21 record, in the Eastern League's Western Division, percentage points ahead of Richmond.

Working overtime

In the past week, the Wolves had to put up with games of 16 and 12 innings.

Erie second baseman Brandon Douglas best summed up the mindset the SeaWolves' clubhouse has when it's stuck in these marathon games. "It's almost like, ‘well we're out there for so long, we mine as well win it.'"

Douglas had a key hit in the Wolves' 16-inning 9-6 loss to Trenton Thursday, when RBI single up the middle tied the game at six in the 15th frame.

In a most bizarre game, Erie's 9-6 loss to Trenton featured several oddities usually reserved for Stephen King novels more so than the ball park.

SeaWolves pitching totaled 21 strikeouts, as the bullpen worked seven scoreless innings before Ramon Garcia gave up a run in the 15th before surrendering three more in the 16th.

The SeaWolves also got their first taste of ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, who accomplished the rare, if not unprecedented feat of striking out a batter from the right and left side in the same inning. Venditte is currently the only ambidextrous pitcher in professional baseball.

The 16 innings were also the most the SeaWolves' Jerry Uht Park existence since it opened in 1995. The scene was made even more interesting by the fact that a season-high crowd of 4,698 had dwindled to just about 60 when the last pitch was thrown 4 hours and 44 minutes later.

Erie atoned for the extra-inning loss, when it gained a 3-2 win in 12 innings over Bowie.

The Wolves scored the game-winning run in the 12th when outfielder Jamie Johnson scored on a wild pitch after smashing a double to right field.

As the season progresses, the Wolves will most likely find themselves in plenty more long-inning marathons.

Manager Chris Cron said the team will have a vast reserve of resolve to draw upon. "It's another one of those positive checklist thing," Cron said.

"We kind of have that M.O.—we do that on a regular basis. We give ourselves a chance."

Quality Pitching

As several of Erie's offensive threats have moved on to Class AAA Toledo, the Wolves' pitching staff has made great strides.

In five of six games last week, Erie allowed three runs or fewer.

Cron points to a refocus on the fundamentals as the main reason for the success.

"Throwing a lot of strikes, coming in and not putting themselves behind the eight-ball with walks and what have you. Working ahead in the count—that's called baseball 101. You have to do it at any level you play at."

Erie's top performer was starter Casey Crosby, who, in two starts, allowed just one run.

Crosby kept the SeaWolves in the game in a scoreless tie Tuesday, before catcher Bryan Holaday hit an RBI single up the middle in the seventh to give Erie a 1-0 win over Trenton.

In his next start, Crosby allowed just one run in six innings in Erie's 6-3 win over Richmond Monday.

Crosby's success is a welcome sign for SeaWolves fans, after the hard-throwing right-hander endured a frightening arm injury a year ago that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season. Although, he has put together quality performances in three of his last four starts, Crosby finally got enough run support to give him his first win since April 30. He currently holds a 2-2 record with a 3.46 ERA in eight starts this season.

Should Crosby continue his success, he could unite with Jacob Turner to form one of the best one-two starting-pitching duos in the Eastern League.

Turner had another dominant performance Saturday, when the right-hander worked eight innings, allowing one run and eight strikeouts. On his 20th birthday, Turner ended up with a no-decision.

The week ahead

The SeaWolves will attempt to further distance themselves from Richmond, when they resume a three-game series Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Wolves will then return home to Jerry Uht Park, where they will take on Eastern Division foe Reading in a four-game series.

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