The ball was flying out of Wild Things Park — a rarity for a wet night in May — during the home opener, but it was three free passes and a bloop hit that ultimately sent Washington to defeat.

Emmanuel Marrero went 4-for-5, drove in four runs and was a triple shy of the cycle, and Steve Kraft hit a tiebreaking bloop single over a drawn-in infield to score Dale Burdick in the top of the ninth inning as the Lake Erie Crushers edged the Wild Things, 8-7, Friday night.

It was another frustrating night for Washington (2-6), which outhit Lake Erie 14-13 but left 12 runners on base.

“Not hitting with runners in scoring position has been a major issue,” Washington manager Gregg Langbehn said about his team’s start to the season. “We had multiple chances and didn’t get that big hit.”

Washington entered Friday with a .176 team batting average with runners in scoring position. Prior to the game, Langbehn pointed out that his team had the second-most hits in the Frontier League but yet scored the second-fewest runs.

The game featured four home runs and 12 extra-base hits. Washington pitchers also walked five batters and hit two others.

“It all starts with pitching. We can’t just throw pitches over the middle of the plate,” Langbehn said. “We have a couple of guys who are guilty of that.

“This was our third one-run loss and pitching and lack of hitting with runners in scoring position go hand-in-hand with that. We had four chances for shutdown innings in this game and didn’t get them.”

Marrero and Kraft each hit a home run for Lake Erie. Center fielder Saige Jenco, who was activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, and Shaine Hughes hit home runs for Washington. Hughes went 5-for-5 and tied the franchise record for hits in a game.

It was the first start of the season for Hughes, who had only one at-bat before Friday.

“He had a nice night. He got his opportunity and put the barrel on almost every one,” Langbehn said. “That’s how you earn your playing time.”

With the scored tied 7-7, the Wild Things brought in closer Zach Strecker (0-1) to pitch the ninth, but he hit Burdick with his second pitch of the inning and walked Jake Veith and Dane Hutcheon to load the bases with one out. Kraft then hit a flare into shallow right field to give the Crushers the lead.

Lake Erie took a 2-0 lead eight pitches into the game as Aaron Hill rolled a leadoff double over the third-base bag off Washington starter Ty Mondile and Marrero homered over the video board in right field.

Marrero’s homer had the Wild Things playing catch-up all night and set up a big night at the plate for the Lake Erie shortstop. Marrero, who played in Class AA last year in the Philadelphia Phillies’ farm system, had a home run and two doubles among his four hits. Needing a triple for the cycle in the sixth inning, Marrero hit a ball off the centerfield wall but stopped at second base for his second double of the game.

Marrero’s initial double came in the third inning and he scored on an error to give Lake Erie a 3-0 lead.

Washington got two of the runs back in the bottom of the third when Jenco hit a two-run homer over the wall just to the right of the batter’s eye.

Lake Erie pushed the lead to 5-2 but Washington again closed to within one run. Hughes, the designated hitter, belted a solo homer in the fourth and Hector Roa’s sacrifice fly in the fifth scored Jenco and pulled Washington to within 5-4.

Washington finally drew even in the eighth. Trailing 7-4, Washington scored three two-out runs. J.J. Fernandez had an RBI single, and Roa hit a towering two-run double off the wall in center field to make it 7-7.

Hughes led of the bottom of the ninth with his fifth hit and stole second base but was stranded there after two strikeouts and a groundout.

Extra bases

The game was delayed for 53 minutes in the top of the second inning because of rain. … Eight Washington starters had at least one hit. … Ivan Vieitez (1-0), the fifth Lake Erie pitcher, was the winner and Seth Lucio got the final three outs for his third save.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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