Blue Crabs mak­ing a push

Win two of three in Bridge­port, rout York to open four-game se­ries

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

Af­ter tak­ing two out of three games in Bridge­port over the week­end, South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs man­ager Jeremy Owens stated that the team’s four-game se­ries in York was per­haps go­ing to be crit­i­cal with play­off im­pli­ca­tions on the line as the sec­ond half of the At­lantic League reg­u­lar sea­son winds down.

On La­bor Day Mon­day, Owens watched his Blue Crabs set the tone in the open­ing game of the se­ries with a 10-1 win over the Rev­o­lu­tion at Peo­plesBank Park in York, Pa.

South­ern Mary­land ex­ploded out to a 10-0 lead af­ter three at-bats, which in­cluded a seven-run third that saw it hit four home runs. The Blue Crabs had five for the game.

With the win, South­ern Mary­land (53-74 over­all, 27-30 sec­ond half) is just 4 1/2 games back of first-place Sugar Land (32-26, 67-61) in the Free­dom Di­vi­sion sec­ond-half stand­ings with 13 games left to play as the se­ries with York con­tin­ued Tues­day. The se­ries fin­ishes with 6:30 p.m. con­tests tonight and Thurs­day, then the Blue Crabs come home for a three­game week­end se­ries ver­sus the Skeeters, who have lost 9 of their last 10, the first two of that streak came Aug. 27 and 28 at Wal­dorf’s Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium.

“Ev­ery game is re­ally cru­cial and the guys have been play­ing very re­silient,” said Owens. “Af­ter los­ing Game 1 in Bridge­port [on Fri­day], we bounced back to win the se­ries and [to­day] we beat a very good York team.”

York (70-56, 30-26) stayed a game behind Sugar Land en­ter­ing Tues­day af­ter Mon­day’s loss to the Blue Crabs.

The Blue Crabs put Mon­day’s game away early in the third by send­ing 10 hit­ters to the plate and scor­ing seven runs on six hits. All seven runs came via the long ball. Eric Gar­cia led the in­ning off with a homer, then Zach Wil­son belted a three-run shot. Later, Al­fredo Marte had a solo blast and Gary Brown fin­ished with a two-run shot.

“Guys have been pick­ing up the slack at the plate and are an­swer­ing the bell,” Owens said. “I’m just so ex­cited to where the of­fense has come and our pitch­ing and de­fense has been strong for us.”

The Blue Crabs took a 2-0 lead in the first on a Gar­cia RBI dou­ble and an RBI sin­gle from An­gel Sanchez, then tacked on an­other run in the sec­ond on a two-out solo homer from An­gel Flores.

Brown, Gar­cia and Flores each had two hits and two runs scored in the game.

Blue Crabs starter Gaby Her­nan­dez pitched a com­plete game, al­low­ing just one run on four hits to go along with eight strike­outs and no walks to pick up his fourth straight win. The lone run Her­nan­dez gave up

was a solo homer to Josh Wil­son in the sixth. Her­nan­dez now has 133 strike­outs for the sea­son, which is third in the At­lantic League en­ter­ing Tues­day.

The game also marked the 1,000th ca­reer league game for Blue Crabs third base­man Bryant Nel­son, who was seven away from the record en­ter­ing Tues­day cur­rently held by Som­er­set’s Jeff Net­tles. In Au­gust, Nel­son — who was 0 for 5 in Mon­day’s con­test — broke Net­tles’ all-time hits record.

Af­ter fall­ing 8-6 in Fri­day’s se­ries opener in Bridge­port where South­ern Mary­land over­came an early 5-1 deficit to tie only to lose later, the Blue Crabs swept a Satur­day dou­ble­header, 10-1 and 3-2 win in nine in­nings, to de­liver the se­ries win. At­lantic League dou­ble­head­ers are two seven-in­ning reg­u­la­tion con­tests.

The dou­ble­header was formed as a pre­cau­tion due to Post-Trop­i­cal Storm Her­mine’s pos­si­ble im­pacts in hit­ting the north­east on Sun­day.

In Game 1, Brian Bur­res shut down the Blue­fish, go­ing the dis­tance in seven in­nings, al­low­ing one run on five hits with three walks and two strike­outs. The lone run scored on a dou­ble-play ground ball in the sev­enth.

Bur­res’ record went to 10-8, the 10 vic­to­ries tied for sec­ond in the league en­ter­ing Tues­day. The leader is Bridge­port’s Jonathan Al­baladejo, the Game 1 los­ing pitcher, with 13. His ERA low­ered to 3.01, which was sec­ond in the league en­ter­ing Tues­day.

Marte was 2 for 2 at the plate with a home run, three RBIs, a walk and two runs scored. He hit a two-run homer in the fourth to give the Blue Crabs a 4-0 lead. His sac­ri­fice fly in the sev­enth capped off the team’s scor­ing. Marte also had a twoout solo homer in Thurs­day’s 8-4 loss to Som­er­set, which took three of four at Re­gency.

In Game 2 of Satur­day’s dou­ble­header, Michael Sny­der sin­gled home Gar­cia for the even­tual game-win­ning run in the ninth.

Brown’s two-run, two-out, bases-loaded sin­gle gave the Blue Crabs a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Bridge­port an­swered in the bot­tom of the in­ning on Jose Gil’s RBI sin­gle.

The Blue Crabs loaded the bases in the top of the sev­enth on three hits but could not score. The Blue­fish had the win­ning run on third in the eighth, but Craig Stem got Gil to strike out swing­ing to send the game to the ninth.

Stem threw 2 2/3 in­nings of score­less re­lief to get the win, al­low­ing just two hits and one walk while strik­ing out. Closer Cody Ep­p­ley struck out the side in­be­tween a one-out sin­gle for his 29th save, which is tied for third in the league with Sugar Land’s Der­rick Loop en­ter­ing Tues­day.

Sanchez was 6 for 8 in dou­ble­header with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Gar­cia fin­ished 5 for 9 with an RBI and three runs scored.

“It felt great to win the se­ries in Bridge­port,” said Sanchez on Mon­day af­ter­noon. “We are putting ev­ery piece to­gether and we will win more games. Ev­ery game is im­por­tant from here on out.”

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