Blue Crabs finish up home slate with win over New Britain
Blue Crabs eke past New Britain
When New Britain’s Cole Garner hit a solo home run to lead off the top of the ninth inning Wednesday night, cutting the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ lead that was six in the fourth to just one run, Cody Eppley knew he had to shake it off.
The Blue Crabs closer did just that, retiring three of the last four batters he faced — forcing Anthony Hewitt to groundout for the final out of the game — to give his team an 8-7 victory in the finale of a three-game series at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
The win came in Southern Maryland’s final regular season home game as the Blue Crabs won the series with the Bees two games to one.
Despite giving the homer to Garner, Eppley struck out two batters in the ninth to pick up his 31st save of the season, which was third in the Atlantic League entering Thursday.
“I just had to keep on attacking the strike zone and put the ball in play for my defense,” said Eppley, who played with Garner on the 2014 league champion Lancaster squad. “On that home run, that was a bad pitch and he is a good hitter. But I was able to shake it off and keep throwing strikes.”
Southern Maryland (5779 overall, 31-35 second half), traveled to Texas to play Sugar Land in a four-game series, which began Thursday, to end its season. Entering Thursday, the Blue Crabs were four games back of Sugar Land and York for the first-place spot in the league’s second-half Freedom Division standings.
“It was a farewell win at home for us and wins have been hard to come by this year, but the guys have battled all season with all the adversity that we’ve had,” Blue Crabs manager Jeremy Owens said. “We have four games to go [entering Thursday] and now our job in to be [playoff] spoilers, so we are going to see what we can do in Sugar Land.”
New Britain (69-67, 3333 Liberty) started its rally from an 8-2 deficit in the sixth on James Skeleton’s RBI single to center field. Then in the seventh, the Bees scored three more runs on five hits, capped by an RBI single to left by Steve Carrillo to cut the lead to 8-6. Garner’s homer made it 8-7, but the visitors got no closer.
The Blue Crabs scored the first run of the game on Angel Sanchez’s RBI single and, moments later, third baseman Bryant Nelson scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to
2-0. Jamar Walton then reached first on a fielder’s choice, driving in Sanchez to push the lead to three runs.
In the second, Southern Maryland tacked on three more runs on Nelson’s threerun double. Nelson, played in his career league-leading 1,009th game, finished 3 for 5 with two doubles with two runs scored in the game.
“This was all for the fans. It was Fan Appreciation Night and our season hasn’t gone as planned, but they’ve stuck with us the whole way with all their support,” Nelson said. “Now we have to finish up strong in Sugar Land.
The lead was pushed to 8-2 in the fourth when first baseman Zach Wilson, who was 3 for 4 in the game, drove in Eric Garcia on a single to left and Nelson scored on Michael Snyder’s sacrifice fly.
Blue Crabs starter Brian Burres picked up the win on the hill to go to 11-9 on the season. The 11 wins are tied for second in the league entering Thursday. In six innings, Burres allowed three runs on six hits and struck out eight. He also walked five batters.
Tuesday, Steve Carrillo hit a two out solo homer off Blue Crabs reliever Craig Stem in the top of the 11th frame to give New Britain a 4-3 victory.
Shawn Gilblair retired nine of 11 batters to pick up the win out of the bullpen for the Bees, pitching the final 3 2/3 innings with two strikeouts, allowing no runs.
Before Carrillo’s homer, the Blue Crabs bullpen of Robert Carson, Scott Maine, Scott Snodgress and Stem combined to not allow a run on three hits while striking out 10 in seven innings.
Nelson’s two-run double in the bottom of the fifth tied the game at 3 which remained the score until the 11th.
Sanchez drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly and the Bees tied the game at 1 in the top of the second. In the fourth, New Britain scored two more runs highlighted by a Golson RBI double.
Blue Crabs third baseman Bryant Nelson finished 3 for 5 at the plate with two doubles, three RBIs and two runs scored in Wednesday night’s 8-7 win over the New Britain Bees in the finale of a three-game series and the final home game of the regular season.