Winner-take-all game for Blue Crabs tonight
Face Lancaster for Freedom Division first-half title; La Plata graduate Thompson starts
Tonight will be for all the marbles.
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are set to host the Lancaster Barnstormers for the Freedom Division first-half championship at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
The winner of the game will be crowned first-half champions and clinch a berth into the Atlantic League playoffs. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
The Blue Crabs and the Barnstormers had identical 38-31 records when the first-half calendar completed on July 2. The two teams still had a makeup contest from a May 25 postponement to play, but it would have to wait till tonight as the teams did not meet again in the first half, setting up the winner-take-all showdown in Waldorf.
Along with automatic postseason berth, the winner will also gain home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with the option of the playing the first two games, or the last three, of the divisional series on their home field.
The original second-half game scheduled for tonight will be made up as part of a doubleheader starting at 5:05 p.m. Saturday. The series concludes at 2:05 p.m. Sunday.
“This will be the biggest game of the season for us thus far,” Blue Crabs manager John Harris said. “We have a chance to get a playoffs and we will be in front of our home fans. Lancaster is a very tough team and we have to come out and be ready to play and take advantage of our opportunities.”
Southern Maryland and Lancaster have already played nine times this season. The Barnstormers lead the head-to-head series 5-4, but the Blue Crabs have won the last three meetings versus their Freedom Division rivals.
“Our team really feeds off the energy from our fans,” Harris said. “The Southern Maryland community has cheered us
on all season and we want to get a victory for our hometown.”
Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, will get the starting nod for the Blue Crabs in tonight’s championship tilt.
The former Major League hurler who will be making his third start this season versus Lancaster was seventh among pitchers in the Atlantic League with 82 strikeouts through Wednesday. His record is currently 5-5 with a 4.13 ERA.
On May 24 versus Lancaster in Waldorf, Thompson delivered with a sixhit shutout and struck out six with one walk in a 2-0 win. He pitched a no-decision in a 12-9 win in a May 9 meeting at Lancaster, allowing six runs on nine hits with four strikeouts.
Lancaster, which won its fourth straight game Wednesday, will have Brad Bergesen on the hill to start tonight’s game.
The former Baltimore Orioles right-hander, who is 6-6 on the season, allowed just two hits while striking out three batters in Lancaster’s 7-2 win over Long Island on Sunday.
Bergesen has allowed just two earned runs in 36 2/3 innings in his six wins.
“The key is going to be pitching and defense and doing the little things,” Lancaster manager Ross Peeples said. “We have to execute and continue to play well. We’ve had some new guys come on the team that have really sparked our team these last few weeks. The Blue Crabs have a very good squad and are scrappy. It is going to be tough coming from a road trip in New Britain, but we have to be ready to play.”
Blue Crabs pitcher Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, gets the starting nod in tonight’s Freedom Division first-half championship game versus the Lancaster Barnstormers at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, scheduled for 6:35 p.m. Thompson enters the game with a 5-5 record and a 4.13 ERA with 82 strikeouts, good for the seventh-most among pitchers in the Atlantic League through Wednesday.