Blue Crabs notch first sweep of 2017
Score 18 runs on 29 hits in 3-game series at Long Island
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs put on an all-around clinic of baseball execution this weekend in a three-game road series versus the Long Island Ducks.
Sunday, the Blue Crabs completed a three-game sweep with an 8-2 victory over the Ducks in the series finale at Bethgate Ballpark in Central Islip, N.Y.
It was the first sweep of the season for Southern Maryland, winning 2-1 and 8-5 on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The Blue Crabs and Ducks split a four-game series three weeks ago to open the season.
Southern Maryland went into the series after losing three of four to the Sugar Land Skeeters, falling 5-1 in the final game Thursday. The Blue Crabs put that behind them by scoring 18 runs on 29 hits in the three games versus the Ducks.
“Our pitching and defense has been solid and our offense is putting up runs,” Blue Crabs manager John Harris said. “We just want to continue to take one game at a time and improve in the first half of the season.”
Southern Maryland (9-9 overall) continued its road trip on Monday, falling 8-3 in the first of a three-game set versus the Lancaster Barnstormers, which continued Tuesday and finishes with an 11 a.m. start today.
The Blue Crabs then return home for a seven-game homestand, starting Thursday in the opener of a four-game series with Somerset, the leaders in the Atlantic League’s Liberty Division through Monday’s action. Sugar Land leads in the Freedom, with the Blue Crabs two games back.
Monday, Lancaster outhit the Blue Crabs 12-4. The Barnstormers had leads of 3-0 after two innings, 6-1 after four and 8-1 after seven. The Blue Crabs
scored two in the top of the ninth, but it wasn’t enough.
Caleb Gindl led the way for Lancaster with two hits, one a fourth-inning three-run home run, and five RBIs. Starter Austin Fleet took the loss for the Blue Crabs, giving up six runs on seven hits in just four innings.
Sweeping away the Ducks
Sunday, Blue Crabs starting pitcher Justin De Fratus picked up his third win of the season as he allowed just one run on four hits in five innings. His 1.40 ERA is the third-lowest among eligible starters in the Atlantic League through Monday.
“It’s nice to get the win, especially for us to finish off the sweep,” said De Fratus in a phone interview with Southern Maryland Newspapers on Sunday night. “Today was just about trying to keep the ball down and out of the jet stream to left field. It was a cold day, so the plan was mostly to attack the strike zone and get the guys back at the dugout as quickly as possible.”
Southern Maryland, which had 13 hits, scored four runs in the top of the first and four more in the fourth. Eight of nine batters in the lineup had at least a hit with five of them collecting two hits each.
Clean-up hitter Michael Snyder led the way offensively for the Blue Crabs with two hits while driving in three runs on the day. Patrick Palmeiro also added two RBIs with a hit in the win.
Snyder was a huge spark for Southern Maryland in the series, going 6 for 14 with seven RBIs, two home runs and a double. Snyder’s homers came in Saturday’s win, a two-run shot in the eighth and solo shot to lead off the ninth.
He also had a two-out RBI single in the fifth that turned out to be the game-winning hit on Friday’s tight affair.
“First off, our starters pitched well and our hitting is starting to come around,” said Snyder in a phone interview with Southern Maryland Newspapers on Sunday. “The guys in front of me are getting on base and I just want to bring them in. Anytime you get a sweep it is great, Long Island is a very good team.”
Trailing 3-2 after Zach Wilson’s solo homer in the sixth, the Blue Crabs sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored five runs off of former Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne in the eighth keyed by Snyder’s bomb and Gary Brown’s tworun triple.
Sam Runion got his first win of the season on the hill after pitching a scoreless seventh. Closer Cody Eppley retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth, striking out two batters to help preserve the win.
Blue Crabs starter Gaby Hernandez did not factor in the decision as he threw five innings, allowing three runs on six hits with one strikeout.
Ducks designated hitter Alex Songco led the way with three hits, two coming on home runs, and four RBIs.
In the series opener, Southern Maryland starter Brian Grening battled for seven innings and delivered with a win, striking out five batters and surrendering just one run on four hits with no walks. The only Long Island run was a solo shot to Cody Puckett in the bottom of the second.
Eppley retired the side in the ninth, striking out two batters, to get the save.
Brown tied the game at 1 in the top of the third on an RBI single.
The Blue Crabs got down 5-1 after seven innings on Thursday.
Starter Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, allowed just one hit through four innings, but gave up single runs in the fifth and sixth to end his night.
Fleet came in the game in the seventh and gave up three runs. The game was called because of rain and ruled official in the bottom of the ninth with no outs and a runner on base.