Win­ner-take-all game for Blue Crabs tonight

Face Lan­caster for Free­dom Divi­sion first-half ti­tle; La Plata grad­u­ate Thomp­son starts

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

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.”

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

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.

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