September baseball in Southern Maryland
Blue Crabs outlast York in 10, now 3 1/2 games out in Freedom Division standings
To keep their playoff hopes going in the right direction, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs need to keep winning.
Wednesday night at Peoples-Bank Park in York, the Blue Crabs battled back from a onerun deficit in the top of the ninth to force extra innings, took the lead in the 10th and pulled off a wild ending in the bottom half to win 5-4.
York, trailing by a run, loaded the bases with one out against right-hander Craig Stem. Stem then proceeded to strike out Andres Perez and Michael Burgess to end the game and bring the Blue Crabs to within 3 1/2 games of Sugar Land and York, who share first place with the Revolution holding the top spot by one percentage point, with 11 games left to play in the Atlantic League’s Freedom Division second-half standings entering Thursday.
With one out in the top of the ninth, Alfredo Marte advanced to first on a fielder’s choice then went to second base on an error as Zach Wilson came home to tie the game at 4.
Cody Eppley, in his second inning of relief, allowed backto-back walks with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but got Brandon Chaves to ground out to send the game to the 10th.
Bryant Nelson singled with one out in the 10th and moved to third on an Angel Sanchez single. Michael Snyder delivered with an RBI single to center field off of reliever Ricardo Gomez, scoring Nelson for the eventual game-winning run.
“It felt great to get that knock for the team,” said Snyder, who was 0 for 4 at the plate before the big hit. “I had to step up and it was a great team win. The bats came alive and our pitchers threw well.”
Eppley got the win on the hill for the Blue Crabs as he pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth. Stem picked up his first save of the season with blanking York in the 10th. Scott Snodgress relieved starter Brian Grening and threw a scoreless seventh.
“I really like where this bullpen is right now,” Blue Crabs manager Jeremy Owens said. “They understand situations and guys are answering the bell. The playoffs have started for us right now. We are real excited and it was a big win tonight.”
The Blue Crabs (54-75 overall, 28-31 second half entering Thursday) finished the fourgame series at York (71-57, 3127) on Thursday and kick off a three-game weekend series with Sugar Land (67-63, 32-28) at 7:05 tonight, then wrap up its home schedule with three games versus New Britain starting Monday before finishing the season with four games in Sugar Land starting Sept. 15. The Skeeters were swept by Somerset in three games this week and have lost 11 of their last 13 dating back to losing two of three in late August at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
Southern Maryland struck first as Gary Brown led off the game with a home run. After York scored three runs in bottom of the second, Brown hit another solo shot in the third to bring the Blue Crabs to within 3-2.
Wilson, who finished 3 for 5 at the plate with two runs scored, hit his 18th home run of the season in the fourth to tie the game at 3. However, a solo homer from Bryan Pounds put York up 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
Blue Crabs starter Brian Grening pitched a no-decision, going six innings, allowing all four York runs on six hits to go along with a walk and five strikeouts. The Oregon native has nine wins, tied for fourth most in the Atlantic League entering Thursday.
“It was a total team effort tonight. I wasn’t at my best, but the bats kept us in it and that’s a sign of a good team,” said Grening, who is in his ninth season as a pro. “The bullpen was exceptional and it’s always nice to see them lock in a win, especially when your closer goes [two].”
Tuesday, Southern Maryland was on the wrong side of a onerun final, falling 4-3. The Blue Crabs scored all three of their runs in the third.
Eric Garcia hit an RBI double, scoring Marte. The next two batters, Brown and Nelson, tried to lay down sacrifice bunts, but back-to-back York errors allowed a pair of Blue Crabs runs to score.
Jared Mitchell’s two-run single in the bottom of the third brought the Revolution to within 3-2, which stood until Isaias Tejada led off the seventh with a homer that tied the game. Later, Michael Rockett scored on a sacrifice fly to left from Josh Wilson to put York in front.
The Blue Crabs had the tying run at third with one out in the eighth but could not score. In the ninth, Jamar Walton reached on an error, but was stranded as the visitors lost by a run.
York outhit Southern Maryland 9-4. After the three-run, three-hit third, the Blue Crabs did not have another hit until a Nelson leadoff single in the eighth.
Blue Crabs starter Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, lost his third straight start, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.