Blue Crabs take an­other se­ries

Take 2 of 3 ver­sus Long Is­land head­ing into All-Star break

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

The South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs had a chance to wrap up the At­lantic League’s Free­dom Di­vi­sion first-half ti­tle against the Long Is­land Ducks two week­ends ago in New York.

The Blue Crabs were un­able to hold down two eighth-in­ning leads en route to be­ing swept in three games and forc­ing that di­vi­sion ti­tle to be de­cided in a win­ner-take-all game later this month ver­sus Lan­caster in South­ern Mary­land.

This past week­end, South­ern Mary­land and Long Is­land played its first se­ries of the sec­ond half at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf and the story was a lit­tle dif­fer­ent as the Blue Crabs won two of the three con­tests.

Af­ter 5-4 and 7-2 wins on Fri­day and Satur­day, re­spec­tively, the Blue Crabs weren’t able to com­plete the sweep on Sun­day af­ter­noon, fall­ing to the Ducks 4-3.

De­spite the loss, South­ern Mary­land (42-33 over­all, 4-2 sec­ond half) won its sec­ond straight se­ries to open the sec­ond half. The team is off for the all-star break through Thurs­day then kicks off the first of a three-game se­ries at New Bri­tain at 6:35 p.m. Fri­day.

The Blue Crabs headed into the break with a 1/2-game lead over York for first place in the Free­dom Di­vi­sion’s sec­ond-half stand­ings.

The 2017 At­lantic League All-Star Game takes place at 7 tonight at TD Bank Ball­park in Bridge­wa­ter, N.J., with eight Blue Crabs tak­ing part, in­clud­ing out­fielder Cory Vaughn who was added to the ros­ter on Fri­day.

“It is al­ways nice to get the sweep, but we were happy to win two out of three and our sec­ond straight se­ries,” Blue Crabs man­ager John Har­ris said. “We are go­ing through the in­jury bug right now and with four days off we just want to get healthy.”

Long Is­land jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first on three solo home runs ver­sus South­ern Mary­land starter Brian Gren­ing.

The first came from Fehlandt Len­tini as he sent the sec­ond pitch of the game over the left­field wall on a Gren­ing fast­ball. Two bat­ters later, Lew Ford hit a shot over the wall in left. Two bat­ters af­ter Ford, Marc Krauss added the third homer of the in­ning.

The Blue Crabs tied the game at 3 on Brian Bistagne’s twoRBI dou­ble in the sec­ond and Cory Vaughn’s sac­ri­fice fly in the third.

In the top of the fifth, Fehlandt Len­tini hit a ground ball that made Gren­ing come off the mound. Gren­ing picked up the ball, but over­threw first base, al­low­ing Len­tini to ad­vance all the way to third. Delta Cleary Jr.’s sac­ri­fice fly to cen­ter scored Len­tini to give the Ducks a 4-3 lead and they would not lose that lead.

Long Is­land start­ing pitcher John Brownell (7-1) picked up the win, toss­ing seven in­nings, al­low­ing three runs on seven hits with seven strike­outs and four walks. David Aardsma re­tired all three bat­ters in the ninth to pick up his sev­enth save of the sea­son.

Gren­ing (7-3) suf­fered the loss af­ter al­low­ing four runs (3 earned) on 10 hits in eight in­nings with three strike­outs and a walk.

“Never en­joy los­ing to those guys [Long Is­land], but at the end of the day we still took the

se­ries and was in a great spot to pos­si­bly sweep,” Gren­ing said. “We opened the sec­ond half on a good note and that’s what we want. I love com­pet­ing with these guys ev­ery­day.”

Bistagne and LJ Hoes each fin­ished with two hits to lead the Blue Crabs, who left nine run­ners on base.

Satur­day, South­ern Mary­land col­lected 12 hits en route to the win.

Blue Crabs clean-up hit­ter Michael Sny­der fin­ished 2 for 3 with four RBIs, a walk and three runs scored, in­clud­ing a tworun home run in the third and two-run dou­ble in the sev­enth. Sny­der heads into the break, lead­ing the league in dou­bles (23) and is sec­ond in homers (18), RBIs (55) and runs scored (46).

Start­ing pitcher Drew Hayes got the win, al­low­ing just one run on four hits in six in­nings with six strike­outs and two walks. Hayes fanned five of his six strike­outs in the first three in­nings, in­clud­ing strik­ing out the side in the first.

In Fri­day’s se­ries opener, with the score tied at 4 in the bot­tom of the eighth, Vaughn reached on a two-out er­ror, went to sec­ond on a wild pitch and scored on Hoes’ RBI sin­gle as the Blue Crabs held on for the win.

“We have a very strong lineup and when I go to the plate I just stay pa­tient and look for a pitch in the zone,” Hoes said. “I just fo­cus on get­ting on base and help­ing us win games.”

In the top of the ninth, Long Is­land had the ty­ing run on sec­ond base with two outs, but closer Cody Ep­p­ley got Ford to ground out to first to end the game for his 22nd save of the sea­son.

Craig Stem got two key outs com­ing out of the bullpen in the eighth when the game was still tied and picked his first win of the sea­son.

The game was tied at 1 af­ter five, then each team scored three times in the sixth. Trail­ing 4-1, Zach Cone drove in two with a bases-loaded sin­gle and Luis Alen brought in the ty­ing run on a sac­ri­fice fly.

Daryl Thomp­son, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, re­ceived a no-de­ci­sion. He al­lowed four runs on nine hits in six in­nings with a walk and four strike­outs.

Vaughn gets All-Star nod

The At­lantic League an­nounced Fri­day that Vaughn was added to the Free­dom Di­vi­sion All-Star team. This will be his first all-star game ap­pear­ance.

“This is pretty ex­cit­ing to be play­ing in my first all-star game,” Vaughn said. “I’m ex­pect­ing a big crowd in Som­er­set and it is go­ing to be fun play­ing with my team­mates and see­ing all the tal­ent around the league.”

In his first sea­son in South­ern Mary­land, eighth as a pro, Vaughn heads into the break hit­ting .271 with six homers and 33 RBIs, while also steal­ing nine bases. Vaughn cur­rently leads the league in runs scored (47) and hit-by-pitch (7), while also rank­ing in the top 10 in dou­bles (18), walks (45), and on-base per­cent­age (.388).

Mon­day, the league an­nounced that Zach Wil­son will take part in the home run derby that pre­cedes the all-star game. Wil­son has 12 home runs on the sea­son.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs short­stop Ed­win Gar­cia makes the throw over to first base in Sun­day’s 4-3 loss to Long Is­land at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Eight play­ers will rep­re­sent the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs at the At­lantic League All-Star Game, which will be held tonight at TD Bank Ball­park in Bridge­wa­ter, N.J. Pic­tured, from left, are Gaby Her­nan­dez, Cody Ep­p­ley, Michael Sny­der, Zach Wil­son, Devon Ro­driguez, Cory Vaughn, Daryl Thomp­son and Brian Gren­ing.

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