Blue Crabs win one, lose one vs. Som­er­set

Free­dom Di­vi­sion lead down to just 1 game with 5 to go

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

Wed­nes­day night fea­tured an­other an­tic­i­pated head-to-head matchup be­tween the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs and Som­er­set Pa­tri­ots, the top two teams in the At­lantic League.

It had two of the top pitch­ers in the league go­ing as Brian Gren­ing started for the Blue Crabs ver­sus the Pa­tri­ots’ Rick Teasley. Both came in with iden­ti­cal 6-1 records and nearly iden­ti­cal ERAs that were the top two in the league.

Af­ter a rough top of first in­ning that saw South­ern Mary­land throw the first blow with three runs, Teasley and the Pa­tri­ots did not al­low an­other Blue Crabs run the rest of the night in a 12-3 win at TD Bank Ball­park in New Jersey.

Just over a half hour af­ter post­ing the win to go to 41-25 over­all, Som­er­set got even bet­ter news as it clinched the Lib­erty Di­vi­sion first-half ti­tle, earn­ing a berth in the league play­offs in Septem­ber, when York de­feated Bridge­port, 12-5.

Af­ter ty­ing the four-game se­ries up at 1 with a 6-3 vic­tory on Tuesday, the Blue Crabs got off to a great start Wed­nes­day night with the three-run first, but only had four hits in the final eight in­nings against Teasley and re­liever Duane Be­low.

En­ter­ing Thursday’s se­ries fi­nale with Som­er­set, South­ern Mary­land (37-28) led the Free­dom Di­vi­sion by just 1 game over Lan­caster af­ter the Barn­storm­ers’ 5-3 win Wed­nes­day over New Bri­tain.

The Blue Crabs are sched­uled to kick off a three-game week­end se­ries at Long Is­land at 6:35 tonight, while Lan­caster will host Som­er­set for three games start­ing tonight.

The first half of the league’s sea­son ends on Sun­day with the sec­ond half start­ing im­me­di­ately the next day, which for South­ern Mary­land be­gins with a four-game se­ries ver­sus Sugar Land at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf at 6:35 p.m. And depend­ing upon what hap­pens this week­end, the Free­dom first-half ti­tle may not be de­cided un­til July 29 when the Blue Crabs and Barn­storm­ers make up a May 25 post­pone­ment, a game from the first half, in Wal­dorf.

“We know Som­er­set is a very tough team and we at least want to get the split,” Blue Crabs man­ager John Har­ris said. “Last night was a must win and the guys were able to re­spond from the [Mon­day’s 10-6 loss]. We have to fin­ish up the first half strong.”

Som­er­set’s Kyle Roller hit for

the cy­cle, go­ing 5 for 5 at the plate with two home runs and eight RBIs. Roller be­came the sec­ond Som­er­set player ever, and first since 2002, to hit for the cy­cle and tied a fran­chise record for most RBIs in one game.

Teasley de­liv­ered with his sev­enth win of the sea­son, the most wins cur­rently among pitch­ers in the league. He al­lowed three runs on five hits in seven in­nings with three walks and eight strike­outs.

Gren­ing got the loss, giv­ing up six runs on nine hits over six in­nings with a walk and five strike­outs. Re­liev­ers Sam Ru­nion and David Russo com­bined to al­low six more runs over Som­er­set’s final two at­bats with Roller’s three-run, bases-clear­ing triple off Russo in the eighth com­plet­ing his cy­cle.

A two-out rally in the first plated the Blue Crabs’ three runs on the night. Zach Wilson walked, then scored on Michael Sny­der’s RBI double. Cory Vaughn fol­lowed next with a two-run home run. Vaughn ex­tended his on-base streak to 24 straight games, dat­ing back to June 2, and the homer was the 15th that Som­er­set’s pitch­ing had given up to the Blue Crabs in seven games this sea­son.

On Tuesday, South­ern Mar yland led 3-0 af­ter seven in­nings and saw Som­er­set score two in the bot­tom the eighth to come to within one run. How­ever, in the top of the ninth, the Blue Crabs scored three in­sur­ance runs to go up 6-2 and held on for the even­tual win.

The three-run ninth fea­tured a solo home run from Sny­der, an L.J. Hoes RBI double and a Luis Alen two-out RBI sin­gle. It was Hoes’ first RBI since join­ing the Blue Crabs on June 23.

Blue Crabs pitcher Cody Ep­p­ley came on in a non-save si­t­u­a­tion in the bot­tom of the ninth, al­low­ing a run and walked two bat­ters in a row to load the bases with two outs, but forced Greg Gol­son to ground out to third base to end the game.

Sny­der led the way for the Blue Crabs with two hits in the game, both com­ing on solo homers. Wilson and Zach Cone also had home runs in the game.

“I just take the same ap­proach ev­ery time I go up to the plate,” said Sny­der af­ter Tuesday’s win. “I just jumped on good pitches I saw and was able to hit it over the wall.”

Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes picked up the win to go to 3-2, al­low­ing no runs on two hits in seven in­nings with six strike­outs and four walks. Jesse Beal re­lieved Hayes and threw the eighth, giv­ing up two runs on one hit with two walks.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Blue Crabs start­ing pitcher Brian Gren­ing went six in­nings, giv­ing up six runs on nine hits with a walk and five strike­outs, in a 12-3 loss to the Som­er­set Pa­tri­ots on Wed­nes­day night in New Jersey.

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