Blue Crabs get swept in Long Island
Blow eighth-inning leads twice; July 28 makeup to decide Freedom first-half winner
Long Island had leads of 6-0 and 9-2 and went on to secure a 10-5 victory on Sunday night to wrap up a three-game series sweep over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs at Bethpage Ballpark in Central Islip, N.Y.
Southern Maryland, which had a two-game lead going into the weekend series, ended up tied for first place with Lancaster in the Atlantic League’s Freedom Division first-half standings with identical 38-31 records.
Sunday marked the league’s end of the first half, but the Blue Crabs and Barnstormers will make up a May 25 postponement at 6:35 p.m. July 28 at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf that will count in the first-half standings with the winner clinching the division title and a playoff berth in September.
The second half of the season kicked off Monday with the first of a four-game series in Waldorf versus Sugar Land. The series continues through Thursday with scheduled 6:35 p.m. first pitches.
“Long Island is a very good hitting team and you have to throw strikes against a team like that,” said Blue Crabs manager John Harris, whose team was swept for only the second time this season. “We were hoping to get at least two in the series, but it just didn’t happen for us.”
The Ducks (36-34, finishing third for the first half in the Liberty Division) were led by Giovanny Alonzo with a 4 for 4 night at the plate with a home run, RBI and two runs scored. Elmer Reyes finished 3 for 4, including a three-run home run in the third off Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes. Lew Ford added two hits, including a home run that started the scoring in the first.
The Blue Crabs looked to mount a comeback, scoring three runs in the seventh to cut the Ducks lead to 9-5, but did not come any closer.
Michael Snyder hit solo homers in the fourth and sixth and now has 16 on the season, which leads the team and is second in the Atlantic League through Sunday. Zach Wilson added two hits, including a twoRBI triple in the seventh that made it 9-5.
“It’s really disappointing we were swept by Long Island, but it’s part of the grind in a season,” Snyder said. “We’ve been playing well and it’s tough we couldn’t clinch the [division title] this weekend. But we will bounce back. Good teams put tough road trips behind them
and look to the next game.”
Hayes lasted just three innings, allowing six runs on five hits and gave up three home runs.
Saturday, Southern Maryland held a 7-1 lead in the seventh and 7-2 in the eighth, but Long Island rallied back to win 10-8. The night prior, the Blue Crabs fell 5-3 spurred another eighth-inning rally by the Ducks.
The Blue Crabs were 28-1 on the season when leading after seven innings until the blown leads on Friday and Saturday.
“Not being able to hold leads in the eighth inning hurt us,” Harris said. “Our pitching has been solid. We just made critical errors at the wrong time and we have to close games out when we get the lead.”
Just after Southern Maryland batted around in the top half of the seventh Saturday to score four runs keyed by a Devon Rodriguez two-out, two-RBI single, Ruben Gotay’s solo homer off Blue Crabs starter Daryl Thompson gave Long Island its second run of the night.
Thompson was relieved by Robert Carson to start the bottom of the eighth and the game unraveled for Southern Mar yland.
Carson only got one out, the leadoff batter of the inning Anthony Vega, and was out in place of closer Cody Eppley with three runs already in.
An error by second baseman L.J. Hoes made it 7-6, then Eppley uncorked a wild pitch with the bases loaded to tie the game. Dan Lyons followed with a twoRBI triple that put Long Island ahead 9-7 and he came home on another Eppley wild pitch to cap off an eight-run eighth that saw 11 hitters come the plate — nine of them reached in a row — and featured six hits and two errors.
The Blue Crabs made it 10-8 on Cory Vaughn’s RBI groundout, but Edwin Garcia popped out in foul territory with the bases loaded to end the game. Vaughn’s on-base streak came to end at 26 straight games.
Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, did not factor into the decision after the Long Island comeback. He tossed seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out three and threw 87 pitches, 65 for strikes. Eppley suffered the loss, giving up four runs (3 earned) on two hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning.
“It’s definitely important to hold leads and we have a ton of confidence in our bullpen,” Rodriguez said. “We just have to continue to play baseball and cut down on our mistakes. We had two tough losses, but we control our own destiny.”
The Blue Crabs, who outhit the Ducks 15-12, were led by Hoes, Wilson (3 runs) and Garcia with three hits each.
In Friday’s series opener, Southern Maryland held a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth when Long Island scored
three runs to take the lead and eventually hold on for the win.
Zack Thornton came on in relief of Blue Crabs starter Pat McCoy with two on and one out and got Alex Burg on a comebacker, but Vega scored to tie the game. Gotay followed with an RBI double to put Long Island on top and Delta Cleary Jr. added some insurance with an RBI single.
Ducks reliever David Aardsma earned his sixth save with a perfect ninth inning, striking out two, to complete the comeback.
Jose Lozada led the Blue Crabs with three hits and Rodriguez had two, including a two-RBI single in the sixth that put the visitors on top 3-2.
McCoy suffered the loss, surrendering four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.
Thursday, Southern Maryland prevailed 6-4 over Somerset, which had clinched the Liberty Division first-half title the night prior, to finish the four-game series in New Jersey between the league’s top two teams with a split.
Blue Crabs starter Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, pitched a no-decision in Saturday night’s 10-8 road loss to the Long Island Ducks after the Ducks scored eight runs in the eighth inning after he had departed. Thompson went seven innings, allowing just two runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
Blue Crab clean-up hitter Michael Snyder finished with two home runs in Sunday night’s 10-5 road loss to the Long Island Ducks in the three-game series finale.