Blue Crabs con­clude brief home­s­tand with win over Long Is­land

Gren­ing, 4 re­liev­ers shut out Ducks to take se­ries

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com

Hot, hu­mid con­di­tions on Sun­day af­ter­noon were hardly ideal for play­ers and spec­ta­tors alike when the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs con­cluded a brief, three-game home­s­tand against the Long Is­land Ducks but the lo­cal squad emerged with a 2-0 vic­tory.

South­ern Mary­land starter Brian Gren­ing and Long Is­land south­paw starter Dustin Richard­son were hooked in a gen­uine duel through the early part of the day. Nei­ther sur­ren­dered a hit through the first three in­nings, but the Blue Crabs got two hits and an un­earned run against the Ducks’ hurler in the fourth.

Blue Crabs right fielder D’Arby My­ers ar­rived on Sun­day with a 19-game hit­ting streak. Af­ter he grounded out to sec­ond in the bot­tom of the first, My­ers came up with the first hit of the game for ei­ther team when he de­liv­ered a sin­gle to cen­ter in the bot­tom of the fourth, extending his hit­ting streak to 20. Be­fore the in­ning ended he would score the game’s first run.

“I’m a day-to-day guy,” My­ers said, at­tempt­ing to down­play his hit­ting streak. “I don’t keep track of the streak. I know I had the first hit of the game and scored the first run. It’s al­ways good to get that first run. We have a lot of good pitch­ers on this team. Friday was a fluke, but those things hap­pen in base­ball.”

Bryant Nel­son came into Sun­day’s game nine hits shy of over­tak­ing Jeff Net­tles for the all­time At­lantic League record for hits. Nel­son flied out to cen­ter field in his first at-bat in the first, but he fol­lowed My­ers’ sin­gle with one of his own in the fourth.

My­ers and Nel­son set the stage for the first run of the game. Af­ter both sin­gled, both also ex­e­cuted a dou­ble steal and My­ers scored the game’s first run when Long Is­land catcher Mike Dowd’s throw sailed into left field. Nel­son did not ad­vance on the throw­ing er­ror, how­ever, and he was even­tu­ally stranded at sec­ond base when Michael Sny­der and Zach Wil­son both struck out.

Long Is­land’s Ruben Go­tay spoiled Gren­ing’s bid for a no-hit­ter with a sin­gle to right-cen­ter with one out in the top of the fifth. The Ducks’ Delta Cleary Jr. had a one-out sin­gle in the sixth, stole sec­ond, took third on a throw­ing er­ror by Blue Crabs catcher An­gel Flores, but was stranded at third when Gren­ing fanned Mark Mini­cozzi.

South­ern Mary­land had a gen­uine chance to add an in­surance run against Long Is­land re­liever Pa­trick Crider in the home half of the sixth. Flores had a lead­off sin­gle, then An­toan Richard­son walked. My­ers grounded into a force at third and then Nel­son grounded into a 6-4-3 dou­ble play to end the in­ning, one in which the Blue Crabs failed to score.

The hosts got a run in em­phatic fash­ion in the bot­tom of the sev­enth. Two pitches af­ter Al­fredo Marte in­ad­ver­tently hit Ducks catcher Dowd in the back of the head on his fol­low through swing, Marte hit a Nick Struck fast­ball over the fence in left for a solo homer and a 2-0 lead.

Gren­ing (5-4) would even­tu­ally get the win af­ter toss­ing 6 2/3 score­less in­nings and re­liev­ers Craig Stem, Robert Car­son, Nav­ery Moore and Cody Ep­p­ley com­bined to blank the Ducks over the last 2 1/3 in­nings of work. Ep­p­ley recorded his 17th save by toss­ing a per­fect ninth, post­ing one strike­out.

“That first game they re­ally hit the ball,” Gren­ing said. “Long Is­land has a re­ally good hit­ting team. We held them to just one run over the last two nights. That shows you how good of a staff we have. Long Is­land has a very good hit­ting team. But we’ve played well in our last two se­ries against first-place teams.”

The Blue Crabs (33-53) jumped into third place in the Freedom Di­vi­sion sec­ond-half stand­ings, three games be­hind Su­gar Land, head­ing into a seven-game road trip through Con­necti­cut that was sched­uled to be­gin Monday in Bridge­port but was post­poned by rain. A Tues­day dou­ble­header was sched­uled and with the com­ple­tion of the three-game se­ries with the Blue­fish at 7:12 tonight be­fore the Blue Crabs move on to New Bri­tain for four games Thurs­day to Sun­day.

Satur­day night, the Blue Crabs edged the Ducks, 2-1, as sec­ond base­man Gary Brown col­lected his sec­ond home run in as many nights dur­ing the home­s­tand. Starter Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School grad­u­ate, lim­ited the Ducks to one run in six in­nings, but did not get a de­ci­sion.

Brown, who had never played in­field prior to ar­riv­ing in the At­lantic League, belted a solo home run in the bot­tom of the sev­enth to give the Blue Crabs a 2-1 lead. Ep­p­ley recorded his 16th save.

Satur­day’s pitch­ers’ duel was in stark con­trast to Friday’s home opener as the Blue Crabs were pum­meled by the Ducks, 15-2, as South­ern Mary­land starter Gaby Her­nan­dez was roughed up for 11 runs on 12 hits, in­clud­ing four homers, in 3 1/3 in­nings of work. Long Is­land (50-35, 10-5 sec­ond half en­ter­ing Tues­day, lead­ing Som­er­set by a half-game in Lib­erty Di­vi­sion) out­hit South­ern Mary­land, 22-9.

Thurs­day in the last game of their se­ries at York, the Blue Crabs squan­dered a 4-2 lead and a solid out­ing from start­ing pitcher Brian Bur­res, who even­tu­ally got a no-de­ci­sion af­ter al­low­ing two runs on four hits and one walk while fan­ning eight bat­ters in seven in­nings.

South­ern Mary­land took a 4-2 lead into the bot­tom of the ninth, but Ep­p­ley sur­ren­dered three runs with­out re­tir­ing a sin­gle bat­ter. Nel­son did not play that game, but had at least one hit in each of the three games ver­sus Long Is­land.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Starter Brian Gren­ing and four re­liev­ers com­bined for a four-hit shutout Sun­day as the Blue Crabs de­feated Long Is­land to take the three-game se­ries. Gren­ing al­lowed just three hits, walked two and struck out five over 6 2/3 in­nings.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Blue Crabs sec­ond base­man An­gel Sanchez turns to go to first base dur­ing Sun­day’s con­test with Long Is­land. Sanchez and the Blue Crabs shut out the Ducks, 2-0.

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