Blue Crabs split doubleheader, Nelson sets new record
Hernandez throws complete game, 4-hitter in Game 1 win
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.
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.