FIN­ISH­ING

Maryland Independent - - Sports - Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

cham­pi­onship games.

South­ern Mary­land is still vy­ing for the first league ti­tle in fran­chise his­tory, which be­gan its ninth sea­son with open­ing night on Thurs­day evening, a con­test that fin­ished too late for in­clu­sion into this edi­tion, and fin­ish­ing the ros­ter is the start­ing point to achiev­ing that mile­stone.

“We have a lot of pitch­ing and skilled play­ers at dif­fer­ent po­si­tions,” Blue Crabs first-year man­ager Jeremy Owens said. “We have some guys that are com­ing in and can fill some roles.”

Four­teen of the Blue Crabs are pitch­ers with nine of them re­turn­ing to a pitch­ing staff that was the sec­ond-best in the Atlantic League play­offs in 2015.

Af­ter a brief mi­nor league stint with the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles or­ga­ni­za­tion, Sex­ton, a 6-foot-6 righthander, re­turns to the Blue Crabs for an­other sea­son.

Sex­ton, who was as­signed to the Bowie Baysox in late Jan­uary, was re­leased on March 28 and will be a force on the South­ern Mary­land pitch­ing core yet again.

The na­tive of Bal­ti­more, who was drafted by the Los An­ge­les Dodgers in 2007, played a big role in the 2015 Blue Crabs play­off run, deal­ing a shutout in 7 2/3 in­nings, al­low­ing six hits and strik­ing out eight Lan­caster bat­ters in a 6-0 vic­tory in Game 4 that clinched the Free­dom Divi­sion ti­tle for South­ern Mary­land and se­cured them a spot in the league cham­pi­onship se­ries.

“He had a strong per­for­mance in the play­offs last year and we are glad to have him back this sea­son,” Owens said. “When he is on and healthy Tim is one of the best pitch­ers in the Atlantic League.”

Martinez, a na­tive of Los An­ge­les, Calif., has played five sea­sons in the in­de­pen­dent ball cir­cuit, most re­cently with the San Rafeal Pacifics in the Pa­cific As­so­ci­a­tion. He is one of two catch­ers on the Blue Crabs ros­ter.

Dziomba, from Buf­falo, N.Y., who last played with the Sus­sex County Min­ers, brings a strong bat and will also be vi­tal de­fen­sively in the out­field.

Lom­bar­dozzi, a 2007 grad­u­ate of Atholton High School in Howard County, had stints with the Na­tion­als, Ori­oles and Pitts­burgh Pi­rates.

Lom­bar­dozzi saw his best year in 2012 while play­ing for the Na­tion­als on their first divi­sion win­ning team.

Dur­ing that sea­son, Lom­bar­dozzi recorded a .273 bat­ting av­er­age in 126 games played with three home runs, 27 RBIs and 16 dou­bles.

Dur­ing his five sea­sons in the big leagues, Lom­bar­dozzi posted a .263 bat­ting av­er­age in 257 games. While in the mi­nors, he recorded a .293 bat­ting av­er­age with a .387 slug­ging per­cent­age.

Most re­cently, Lom­bar­dozzi played with the In­di­anapo­lis In­di­ans, the Triple-A af­fil­i­ate of the Pi­rates, where he posted a .282 BA in 97 games played.

“Steve is a po­tent hit­ter and solid de­fender who is a huge ad­di­tion for this team” said Owens in a re­cent Blue Crabs news re­lease. “We are thrilled to have his ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship in the club­house.”

The open­ing se­ries with Lan­caster con­tin­ues at 7:05 tonight and on Satur­day with a 6:05 p.m. dou­ble­header that will fea­ture two seven-in­ning games.

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