Blue Crabs get second half going
Take two of first three during fourgame series with Sugar Land
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.
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.
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.