Blue Crabs win one, lose one vs. Somerset
Freedom Division lead down to just 1 game with 5 to go
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.
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.