Blue Crabs sweep twinbill in Cliburn’s return to So. Md.
Lead series 2-1 over former manager Cliburn
It was just last fall that Stan Cliburn was sitting in the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs dugout, managing the team in its quest for an Atlantic League championship.
After finishing as the league runner-up last season, winners of the Freedom Division, the skipper was back at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf on Tuesday night, but this time in the visiting dugout with league newcomer New Britain in the first of a four-game set with the Blue Crabs.
The former Blue Crabs frontman watched the Bees take Tuesday night’s opener 6-3, but the Blue Crabs and new manager Jeremy Owens responded with a sweep of Wednesday’s doubleheader, winning Game 1 5-4 in walk-off fashion and Game 2 in an 8-0 shutout.
The Blue Crabs (9-18 overall) were scheduled to wrap up the series on Thursday night and is scheduled to begin a three-game home series versus the Lancaster Barnstormers at 7:05 tonight.
“The guys responded well today and we beat a very good pitching team in New Britain,” Owens said. “I have a lot of respect for Stan, it is exciting for fans to see our teams battle.”
In Game 1 of the doubleheader, which had a special morning start of 10:35 a.m. as part of the team’s Baseball in Education Day, the Blue Crabs trailed 4-3 going into the bottom of the seventh
after reliever Cody Eppley allowed three runs in the top half. With one out and the bases loaded, Blue Crabs left fielder Jamar Walton hit a two-run single to right field for a 5-4 come-from-behind walk-off win. Atlantic League doubleheaders are two seven-inning regulation games.
Walton finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs in the contest.
Southern Maryland, which had 10 hits, went up 3-1 in the second on an RBI triple by Eric Garcia and an RBI single by shortstop Steve Lombardozzi, who finished 3 for 4 at the plate with two runs scored.
Eppley picked up his second win of the season, despite giving up three runs on four hits in the seventh. Starter Jon Leicester struck out six batters in six innings, allowing just one run on four hits, but ended up with a no-decision.
In Game 2, the Blue Crabs scored two runs in each of the first four innings on 10 hits in the blanking of the Bees.
Scott Sndogress got the win, pitching the first six innings with six strikeouts, allowing just four hits with two walks. Tim Sexton came on in the seventh to preserve the shutout.
“I felt pretty good on the mound today. I just stayed aggressive and threw strikes,” said Snodgress, a former MLB draft pick of the Chicago White Sox. “We are playing better baseball and hopefully we can keep the momentum up and win more games.”
Catcher Gustavo Molina was 3 for 4 with a double and two RBIs, while Garcia, Bryant Nelson and Lombardozzi each had two hits.
Lombardozzi has been one of the league’s hottest hitters since the start of the season. Entering Thursday, the former draft pick of the Washington Nationals currently led the league in batting (.382), hits (39) and places in the top 10 in on-base percentage (.429) and RBIs (17).
In the doubleheader, he went a combined 5 for 6 with two RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base.
In the series opener and first-ever matchup between the two teams on Tuesday night, New Britain (12-14) took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on a two-run home run by Jovan Rosa and a solo shot by Craig Maddox, both former Blue Crabs.
Lombardozzi’s two-run single brought the Blue Crabs to within 3-2 in the bottom of the second. Molina tied the game at 3 in the third on a solo homer, his first of the season.
In the top of the fourth, the Bees put the game away with three runs on a bases-loaded two-run double by Jon Jones and an RBI double by Anthony Hewitt.
Three New Britain pitchers allowed just five hits, retired 19 of the final 21 Southern Maryland batters faced that went back to the final out of the third. It included four 1-2-3 innings. Gaby Hernandez started for the Blue Crabs and took the loss, giving up six runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking two in five innings.
The Blue Crabs have been hit with multiple injuries. Outfielders Fred Lewis and infielder Michael Snyder currently have undisclosed injuries and outfielder Kuan-Jen Chen has a wrist injury. All of them are listed as day to day. The situation has forced Owens to activate himself as a player but has yet to see any action.
Blue Crabs catcher Gustavo Molina was 3 for 4 at the plate with a double and two RBIs in Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader. The Blue Crabs won the contest 8-0 as well Game 1 5-4 in walk-off fashion to sweep the doubleheader over New Britain.
Shortstop Steve Lombardozzi finished a combined 5 for 6 at the plate with two RBIs, four runs scored and a stolen base in the Blue Crabs’ 5-4 and 8-0 wins over New Britain in Wednesday’s doubleheader at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.