Blue Crabs sweep twin­bill in Cliburn’s re­turn to So. Md.

Lead se­ries 2-1 over for­mer man­ager Cliburn

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

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.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

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.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

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.

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