Blue Crabs notch first sweep of 2017

Score 18 runs on 29 hits in 3-game se­ries at Long Is­land

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

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.

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