Blue Crabs split dou­ble­header, Nel­son sets new record

Her­nan­dez throws com­plete game, 4-hit­ter in Game 1 win

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

Wed­nes­day started off his­toric at Wal­dorf’s Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium as South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs third base­man Bryant Nel­son be­came the At­lantic League’s all-time hits leader in the first game of a dou­ble­header with the Lan­caster Barn­storm­ers.

The Blue Crabs rode the en­ergy from Nel­son’s record-break­ing hit to a 3-1 win in the Game 1, but were un­able to com­plete the sweep as the vis­i­tors dealt the home team a 4-0 de­feat in Game 2.

The sec­ond game on the day was a makeup from a May rain­out dur­ing the first half and only counted to­wards each teams first-half records. It was the first time Lan­caster had re­turned to South­ern Mary­land since the first half ended in early July. The Blue Crabs of­fi­cially fin­ish the open­ing half with a 26-44 record.

South­ern Mary­land (38-58 over­all, 12-14 sec­ond half), stood 3 1/2 games be­hind first­place Sugar Land in the At­lantic League’s Free­dom Di­vi­sion sec­ond-half stand­ings be­fore the fi­nale of the Lan­caster se­ries was played Thurs­day. The Blue Crabs open a three-game week­end se­ries at home ver­sus York, just a game be­hind Sugar Land en­ter­ing Thurs­day, at 7:05 tonight.

Nel­son broke the all-time ca­reer hits mark on the sec­ond pitch of his first at-bat. The sin­gle to deep cen­ter field was his 1,053rd hit in his time in the At­lantic League, sur­pass­ing Som­er­set’s Jeff Net­tles. He stood at 1,055 head­ing into Thurs­day’s con­test af­ter a fifth-in­ning dou­ble in Game 1 and a first-in­ning sin­gle in Game 2.

Be­hind the strong pitch­ing

from right-handed starter Gaby Her­nan­dez, all the Blue Crabs of­fense needed was two runs in the bot­tom of the sec­ond and one more in the fifth to help so­lid­ify the vic­tory.

Her­nan­dez, who is just 2-8 on the sea­son, de­liv­ered with his first win since July 1 as he struck out seven bat­ters, sur­ren­dered just four hits and no earned runs, walk­ing just one bat­ter.

“I just wanted to come out ag­gres­sive and throw more fast­balls,” he said. “Noth­ing changed. I just came out with a dif­fer­ent mind­set and was able to have a qual­ity start.”

Blue Crabs man­ager Jeremy Owens added, “I loved to see Gaby bounce back the way he did to­day. It was great to see him at­tack the zone and keep the ball down.”

Af­ter a score­less first in­ning, Gary Brown and D’Arby My­ers hit back-to-back RBI bloop sin­gles in the sec­ond to give South­ern Mary­land a 2-0 lead.

Lan­caster (45-51, 10-16) got on the board in the top of the fourth, scor­ing on an un­earned run off a Blue Crabs er­ror. In the fifth, My­ers led off the fifth with a solo homer, his sev­enth of the sea­son, to make it 3-1.

“Great things hap­pen to­day, Gaby pitched a great game on the mound and with Bryant it was mag­i­cal to watch that,” My­ers said. “It was huge to be apart of that and see him ac­com­plish that and be on the same field with him.”

My­ers fin­ished 2 for 3 at the plate in the Game 1 win and first base­man Zach Wil­son con­trib­uted back-to-back dou­bles.

“The goal for us is to take it game by game and win ev­ery se­ries,” Wil­son said. “Gaby made some great pitches and our de­fense made the plays. It was good to get that win in the first game and set our­selves up [for Thurs­day].”

Lan­caster starter Bryan Evans went five in­nings, giv­ing up three runs on seven hits with two walks and four strike­outs.

In Game 2, de­spite be­ing out­hit 7-5, Lan­caster scored three of its four runs in the top of the first as four of seven bat­ters reached base. Josh Bell drove in K.C. Hob­son on bases-loaded sac­ri­fice fly. Sean Hal­ton pushed the lead to 2-0 on an RBI dou­ble to left and Mike Ja­cobs ex­tended things to three runs on an RBI ground­out.

Chase Pat­ter­son capped off the scor­ing in the next in­ning with a solo homer, just hit­ting in­side the left field foul pole.

Lan­caster’s Justin Jack­son, who made his first-ever start on the mound for the team, de­liv­ered with a win. In five in­nings, Jack­son scat­tered just five hits with five strike­outs.

Blue Crabs starter Ian Mar­shall (3-1) lost for the first time this sea­son as he went four in­nings and gave up four runs on four hits with one strike­out and two walks.

Angel Sanchez and Ja­mar Wal­ton each had two hits to lead the Blue Crabs in the con­test.

The se­ries started Tues­day with a 4-0 Lan­caster win as Barn­storm­ers starter Kelvin De La Cruz al­lowed just four hits in 7 1/3 in­nings while strik­ing out 10.

De La Cruz, now 5-2, was able to keep the Blue Crabs off the board, strik­ing out five bat­ters in a row from the sec­ond and third in­nings and had a no-hit­ter through five in­nings be­fore Al­fredo Marte broke up the no-hit­ter with a lead­off sin­gle in the sixth.

Lan­caster scored its first run in the top of the fifth when Bell ripped a two-run dou­ble. In the sixth, Char­lie Cut­ler drove in Kevin Ahrens on a sac­ri­fice fly and Sean Hal­ton sin­gled to third, scor­ing Jeff Kober­nus to cap off the scor­ing. Ahrens and Hal­ton fin­ished with two hits each for the Barn­storm­ers.

Blue Crabs starter Brian Bur­res got the loss to fall to 8-5, pitch­ing six in­nings and al­lowed three runs, one earned, on four hits with three walks and two strike­outs. He hit two bat­ters in back-to-back in­nings in the first and sec­ond and did not give up his first hit un­til one out in the fourth

Bur­res was tied with New Bri­tain’s Cole John­son for the best ERA in the league at 2.70 en­ter­ing Thurs­day.

Brown led the Blue Crabs with two hits in the loss.

PHOTO BY BERT HIND­MAN

Blue Crabs first base­man Zach Wil­son went 2 for 2 with two dou­bles and a run scored in the 3-1 win over the Lan­caster Barn­storm­ers in the first game of dou­ble­header on Wed­nes­day at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf.

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