Seven Blue Crabs se­lected to All-Star game

Among 44 play­ers named to 20th At­lantic League event

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

The At­lantic League’s mid­sum­mer clas­sic on July 12 will fea­ture seven South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs.

Start­ing pitch­ers Brian Gren­ing, Daryl Thomp­son and Gaby Her­nan­dez, closer Cody Ep­p­ley, first base­man/des­ig­nated hit­ter Zach Wil­son, first base­man/des­ig­nated hit­ter Michael Sny­der and out­fielder Devon Ro­driguez are headed to the 20th At­lantic League’s All-Star Game at TD Bank Ball­park in Bridge­wa­ter, N.J., home of the Som­er­set Pa­tri­ots. The league of­fi­cially made the an­nounce­ment of the all-star se­lec­tions on Mon­day.

The seven Blue Crabs are among 44 play­ers in the All-Star Game, pit­ting the Lib­erty Di­vi­sion against the Free­dom Di­vi­sion. Lib­erty will be man­aged by Som­er­set man­ager Brett Jodie and Free­dom will be man­aged by Sugar Land man­ager Gary Gaetti.

First-half Lib­erty Di­vi­sion cham­pion Som­er­set boast the most all-stars with eight, fol­lowed by South­ern Mary­land (40-32 over­all through Wed­nes­day) with seven. York has six all-star nods, while Long Is­land, Lan­caster, and Bridge­port each have five. Sugar Land and New Bri­tain each have four all-star se­lec­tions.

“It is great to see our guys rec­og­nized by the rest of the At­lantic League,” Blue Crabs man­ager John Har­ris said. “They’ve won ballgames for us this sea­son and are very de­serv­ing to rep­re­sent our team and or­ga­ni­za­tion. Ev­ery­one has con­trib­uted and ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions.”

In his fourth sea­son with the Blue Crabs, the right-han­der Gren­ing fin­ished the first half with a 6-2 record on the hill. Through Wed­nes­day, Gren­ing was tied for the most wins in the league with seven and had the third-low­est ERA at 2.72.

“It’s a to­tal honor to be se­lected,” Gren­ing said. “It’s not easy to make the all-star team in this league. I’m very ex­cited to be a part of this event.”

Thomp­son was se­lected to his sec­ond league al­ls­tar game, first since 2013 where he threw two score­less in­nings in that con­test.

Thomp­son, a 2003 La Plata High School grad­u­ate, ended the first half with a 5-4 record and a 3.91 ERA, also lead­ing the league in in­nings pitched (89.2), while fin­ish­ing in the top 10 in wins and strike­outs (73).

“This is a big ac­com­plish­ment for all of us,” Thomp­son said. “It feels good to be se­lected again and it wouldn’t have hap­pened if it weren’t for my team­mates we have.”

Her­nan­dez, in his sixth sea­son with the Blue Crabs, will be mak­ing the trip to Som­er­set in his first all-star ap­pear­ance.

Thus far, the right-han­der is hav­ing his best sea­son yet with the fran­chise, im­prov­ing his record to 6-1 af­ter Tues­day’s 2-1 win over the Sugar Land Skeeters in the sec­ond game of the sec­ond half where he al­lowed just one run on three hits with eight strike­outs. He led the

league through Wed­nes­day with 83 strike­outs and the six wins were one off the league high.

“It’s nice to rep­re­sent the Blue Crabs and it should be re­ally a good ex­pe­ri­ence for all of us voted in,” Her­nan­dez said.

Ep­p­ley re­turns for his third con­sec­u­tive all-star game. The vet­eran closer fin­ished the first half with a 2.59 ERA, go­ing 20 for 20 in save op­por­tu­ni­ties and ranks sec­ond in the league in saves cur­rently with 21, while ap­pear­ing in a league-high 34 games this sea­son.

Sny­der, who was se­lected for the sec­ond straight sea­son, has been a force in the mid­dle of the lineup. The Blue Crabs’ clean-up hit­ter is cur­rently hit­ting .287, with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs. Sny­der leads the league in dou­bles (21), while also rank­ing sec­ond in homers, RBIs, and is sec­ond be­hind team­mate Cory Vaughn (45) in runs scored (43).

“Last year was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and a lot of fun,” Sny­der said. “Som­er­set should put to­gether an ex­cit­ing at­mos­phere and it will be a great time for ever yone.”

Wil­son, who has been a force in front of Sny­der in the lineup, is mak­ing his first all-star ap­pear­ance. Wil­son fin­ished the first half hit­ting .288, with 12 homers and 46 RBIs. Through Wed­nes­day, Wil­son was tied for third in the league in RBIs be­hind Sny­der with 47.

Ro­driguez, in his first sea­son with the Blue Crabs as a late ad­di­tion to the team on May 12, has es­tab­lished him­self as one of the best hit­ters in the league, ap­pear­ing in just 43 games. He has a .401 bat­ting av­er­age with five homers and 35 RBIs, not hav­ing played enough games to qual­ify for sta­tis­ti­cal marks.

South­ern Mary­land, which was swept in three games by Long Is­land last week­end, was tied for first place with Lan­caster in the 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 Blue Crabs kicked off the sec­ond half on Mon­day at home ver­sus Sugar Land and had taken two of the first three games of a four-game se­ries that was sched­uled to con­clude Thurs­day.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

First base­man/des­ig­nated hit­ter Zach Wil­son was one of seven South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs se­lected to play in the At­lantic League All-Star Game in New Jersey on July 12 for the Free­dom Di­vi­sion.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs out­fielder Devon Ro­driguez will make his first ap­pear­ance in the At­lantic League All-Star Game in New Jersey on July 12.

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