Blue Crabs help Free­dom beat Lib­erty in Atlantic League All-Star game

Blue Crabs help their di­vi­sion pre­vail

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

Brian Bur­res and Cody Ep­p­ley have been the an­chors of the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs pitch­ing staff thus far this sea­son.

And in Wed­nes­day night’s 19th an­nual Atlantic League All-Star base­ball game the two pitch­ers were key con­trib­u­tors in the Free­dom Di­vi­sion’s 3-1 vic­tory over the Lib­erty Di­vi­sion at Clip­per Mag­a­zine Sta­dium in Penn­syl­va­nia, home of the Lan­caster Barn­storm­ers.

The home run derby was sched­uled to be be­fore the game but was can­celed due to rain in Lan­caster.

The top play­ers around the league squared off in the mid-sum­mer clas­sic, which re­turned to the Red Rose City for the first time since 2007.

Bur­res and Ep­p­ley were two of five Blue Crabs play­ers who rep­re­sented the Free­dom Di­vi­sion at the all-star gath­er­ing as in­field­ers Bryant Nel­son and Michael Sny­der and out­fielder Ja­mar Wal­ton were also cho­sen to suit up for the game.

Cur­rent New Bri­tain Bees man­ager Stan Cliburn man­aged the Free­dom Di­vi­sion club. He earned the gig by guid­ing the Blue Crabs to the di­vi­sion ti­tle a sea­son ago.

“Any time you are asked to be in­volved in an all-star game, it’s a priv­i­lege, but it is es­pe­cially in Lan­caster, a place I love,” Cliburn said. “It was good to lead the Free­dom Di­vi­sion to get the win. Our pitch­ing and de­fense play­ing re­ally well tonight.”

Bur­res, the starter for the Free­dom Di­vi­sion, pitched just one in­ning, al­low­ing one run, which was un­earned, on one hit with one strike­out and a walk.

At the all-star break, Bur­res leads the team in wins (6), strike­outs (78) and in­nings pitched (88 1/3), and his 2.75 ERA is good for fourth in the Atlantic League.

Ep­p­ley, who has 13 saves as the closer for the Blue Crabs, pitched the third in­ning and struck out two bat­ters as he re­tired Lib­erty in or­der.

“Be­ing able to start and play in the all-star game was a huge honor,” Bur­res said. “Stan is a great man­ager and play­ing for him tonight was very fun. Play­ing with and against other play­ers from around the league was a big op­por­tu­nity for me to be apart.”

Bur­res re­tired the first two hit­ters he faced, then al­lowed a walk to Jo­van Rosa (New Bri­tain) and a sin­gle to Bryan LaHair (Som­er­set). Lib­erty took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jose Cuevas (Bridge­port) reached on a ground ball to short­stop that re­sulted in two er­rors be­ing called on the play and Rosa scor­ing. That was the only run Lib­erty would get all night.

The first 10 Free­dom hit­ters had been re­tired in or­der when Lan­caster’s Caleb Gindl smacked a solo home run to right field to tie the game at 1 in the bot­tom of the fourth in­ning.

Free­dom took the lead for good when Char­lie Cut­ler (Lan­caster) sin­gled in Sean Hal­ton (Lan­caster) with two outs and, with Travis Wither­spoon (York) at the plate, Lib­erty pitcher Pa­trick Crider (Long Is­land) threw his sec­ond wild pitch of the in­ning to bring in An­dres Perez (York).

Ri­cardo Gomez (York) picked up the win for Free­dom as he pitched a score­less fifth in­ning with one strike­out. Mike DeMark (York) got the save with one strike­out and a walk. Crider was the los­ing pitcher, giv­ing up two runs on three hits in the fifth.

Gindl, who fin­ished 2 for 4 at the plte with a run scored, in­clud­ing the fourth-in­ning homer, was named the game’s Most Valu­able Player in front of his home crowd.

Sny­der, who started at first base and went 0 for 2 with a strike­out, was ec­static to be play­ing in his first Atlantic League All-Star game.

“It was a awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Sny­der, who is tied for sec­ond in the league in homers with 13. “I’m just proud I had the chance to rep­re­sent the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs. Com­ing into the sea­son I didn’t know the first half had been more fun then I’ve had in a long time play­ing base­ball and tonight opened my eyes and me re­al­ize this year has been such a priv­i­lege and amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity. Lan­caster did an out­stand­ing job and made this night very spe­cial for us. What an ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Wal­ton and Nel­son were each 0 for 1 in their lone chances at the plate, both com­ing in the ball­game in the sixth.

“It was fun and it al­ways a good thing to go out and con­trib­ute ei­ther de­fen­sively or with the bat,” said Wal­ton, who is hit­ting .276 with eight homers on the sea­son. “It was a plea­sure to play for Stan again, a great leader and man­ager. We missed the home run derby, but ev­ery­thing turned out well.”

PHOTO BY BERT HIND­MAN

Blue Crabs pitcher Brian Bur­res started on the mound in the Free­dom Di­vi­sion’s 3-1 vic­tory over the Lib­erty Di­vi­sion on Wed­nes­day night in the Atlantic League All-Star base­ball game at Clip­per Mag­a­zine Sta­dium in Lan­caster. The left-han­der pitched one in­ning and gave up one run, which was un­earned, on one hit with one strike­out in the con­test.

PHOTO BY BERT HIND­MAN

Blue Crabs out­fielder Ja­mar Wal­ton rep­re­sented the Free­dom Di­vi­sion at Wed­nes­day night’s Atlantic League All-Star base­ball game at Clip­per Mag­a­zine Sta­dium in Lan­caster, Pa. Wal­ton went into the game in the sixth in­ning and was 0 for 1.

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