Blue Crabs get sec­ond half go­ing

Take two of first three dur­ing fourgame se­ries with Sugar Land

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

While the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs still have things to set­tle in the first half of the At­lantic League base­ball sea­son later this month, the sec­ond half be­gan Mon­day with a fourgame se­ries ver­sus Sugar Land.

The Blue Crabs pro­duced back-to-back 2-1 wins over the Skeeters on Mon­day and Tues­day, but they came up short in the third game of the se­ries Wed­nes­day night by a 5-3 score at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf.

The se­ries fi­nale was sched­uled for Thurs­day night.

South­ern Mary­land (4032, 2-1 sec­ond half through Wed­nes­day) be­gins a three­game week­end se­ries at 6:35 tonight at Re­gency ver­sus a Long Is­land team which swept the Blue Crabs in New York last week­end.

Sugar Land scored four runs in the top of the sec­ond in­ning off South­ern Mary­land starter Pat McCoy and never trailed. The Blue Crabs got to within 5-3 on Michael Sny­der’s home run to lead off the eighth, his team-lead­ing 17th of the sea­son, but no closer.

The Skeeters were led by Cole Gille­spie with a 3 for 3 night at the plate with two RBIs, in­clud­ing a dou­ble, a walk and two runs scored. Gille­spie’s two-RBI dou­ble started the four-run sec­ond.

Sugar Land start­ing pitcher Brett Mar­shall got the win, giv­ing up just two runs on five hits with one strike­out and five walks in six in­nings. Mark Haynes picked up the save for Sugar Land, pitch­ing a score­less ninth with one strike­out.

Sny­der led South­ern Mary­land with two hits and two RBIs, in­clud­ing his home run. He also an RBI sin­gle in the third that put the Blue Crabs on the board. Jose Lozada also added two hits in the game.

Blue Crabs start­ing pitcher Pat McCoy suf­fered the loss to go to 2-4, giv­ing up four runs on seven hits with seven strike­outs and four walks.

Sun­day marked the league’s end of the first half, but South­ern Mary­land and Lan­caster will make up a May 25 post­pone­ment at 6:35 p.m. July 28 at Re­gency that will count in the first-half standings with the win­ner clinch­ing the di­vi­sion ti­tle and a play­off berth in Septem­ber.

“It feels to good to win the first two out of three games and hope­fully we can close out the se­ries [Thurs­day],” Blue Crabs man­ager John Har­ris said. “We still have a di­vi­sion ti­tle from the first half on the line, but our goal is to win the sec­ond half and take it one game at a time.”

In front of a fran­chise record at­ten­dance of 8,196, ac­cord­ing to the team, on the Fourth of July on Tues­day, South­ern Mary­land trailed 1-0 un­til scor­ing twice in the sixth and that was all it would need.

Fol­low­ing Pa­trick Palmeiro’s lead­off dou­ble, Ed­win Garcia hit a one-out sin­gle to put Palmeiro on third. Zach Wil­son then drove in Palmeiro on sin­gle to tie the game at 1. On the next-at bat, Sny­der hit an RBI dou­ble, scor­ing Garcia and there would be no fur­ther scor­ing.

“It felt good to win the first two games of the se­ries. We fell short tonight, we just have to close it out [to­mor­row],” Sny­der said. “We know when we have solid pitch­ing and put runs on the board we re­ally have a good chance of win­ning the game. We just need to con­tinue

play­ing good base­ball and let ev­ery­thing take care of it­self.”

Blue Crabs starter Gaby Her­nan­dez (6-1) picked up the win, giv­ing up just one run on three hits with eight strike­outs in seven in­nings of work. He threw 106 pitches, 70 for strikes. Her­nan­dez’s six wins were tied for sec­ond in the league through Wed­nes­day and he was the league leader in strike­outs with 83.

Zack Thorn­ton re­lieved Her­nan­dez in the eighth, al­low­ing just one hit, and got out of a jam as he forced Hec­tor Oliv­era to ground out into a 6-4-3 dou­ble play to end the in­ning.

Blue Crabs closer Cody Ep­p­ley re­tired the side in or­der in the top of the ninth to get his 21st save of the sea­son.

Garcia and Lozada led the Blue Crabs with two hits each.

In the se­ries opener on Mon­day, Blue Crabs start­ing pitcher Brian Gren­ing kept the Sugar Land of­fense in check all game long, throw­ing a com­plete-game, al­low­ing just one run on three hits with four strike­outs to im­prove his record to 7-2 on the sea­son. His seven wins were tied for best in the league through Wed­nes­day and his 2.72 ERA was third.

Gren­ing took a per­fect game into the fifth in­ning, re­tir­ing the first 13 hit­ters he faced to start the game be­fore giv­ing up a solo homer to Bryan Pounds. He re­tired 19 of his first 20 bat­ters.

De­spite out­hit­ting Sugar Land 10-3, the Blue Crabs had just enough of­fense to get the win.

In the bot­tom of the sixth, LJ Hoes drove in Cory Vaughn (2 hits) on a sin­gle to tie the game at 1. Then in the bot­tom of ninth, Zach Cone reached on a one-out sin­gle and went to sec­ond on a Palmeiro ground­out. Luis Alen, pinch hit­ting for Ryan Wig­gins, then con­nected on a two-out, walk-off RBI sin­gle to win the game.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Blue Crabs start­ing pitcher Pat McCoy gave up four runs on seven hits with seven strike­outs in a 5-3 home loss to Sugar Land on Wed­nes­day night.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Mem­bers of the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs line up for high­fives af­ter a 2-1 vic­tory in Tues­day’s Fourth of July affair ver­sus Sugar Land at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf.

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