Blue Crabs fall short to Somerset in New Jersey
Swept in day-night doubleheader; 2 walk-off losses in 2 days
As the days counted down to tonight’s scheduled Freedom Division first-half championship game versus Lancaster, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs had a fourgame, three-day series versus the Somerset Patriots at TD Bank Ballpark in New Jersey to attend to first.
And three games in, the series hadn’t gone so well.
Tuesday night, the Blue Crabs led 2-0 through eight innings but couldn’t hold on as the Patriots rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 3-2.
In the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday, Southern Maryland managed just three hits and was shut out 1-0 in eight innings in the seven-inning regulation contest. In the nightcap, which went nine innings, the Blue Crabs had an early lead, but a four-run fourth did them in a 7-3 loss.
Southern Maryland (4642 overall, 8-11 second half) looked to salvage the final game of the series on Thursday before tonight’s championship game versus Lancaster at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.
Lancaster will remain in Waldorf over the weekend for games that count towards the second half with a doubleheader at 5:05 p.m. Saturday and a single game at 2:05 p.m. Sunday, then the Blue Crabs — in last place in the Freedom Division second-half standings through Wednesday’s action, four games behind Lancaster — stay home for a three-game series versus Bridgeport starting Monday.
“Last night we blew the lead and today we just
couldn’t get any timely hits and put runs on the board,” said Blue Crabs manager John Harris after Wednesday’s Game 1 loss. “We need guys to step up, can’t have the same guys making plays. It is tough to beat this team at their place, but we had our chances.”
In Game 2 of Wednesday’s doubleheader, Somerset (52-36, 10-8) broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth by batting around and scoring four runs and it never looked back.
The Patriots, who finished with 13 hits, were led by Justin Pacchioli and Scott Kelly with three hits each. Justin Trapp added a tworun double to start the four-run fourth, his first hit with the team.
Somerset starter Will Oliver improved to 4-2 with the win on the hill, going seven innings and giving up just two runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and three walks before turning things over to the bullpen to help seal the game.
Eric Fornataro suffered the loss in his Blue Crabs debut after being picked up to complete an earlier trade with New Britain. Fornataro lasted just four innings, allowing just six runs (4 earned) on eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
With multiple injuries, Southern Maryland had to go without a bench for Tuesday night’s contest and Wednesday’s doubleheader. Prior to Game 2, Kalaika Kahoohalahala was not able to play and it meant the Blue Crabs had to give up their designated hitter and have the pitcher bat.
In the second trailing 1-0, Fornataro delivered with his first pro career hit on a RBI single that scored Patrick Palmeiro to tie the game.
Next, Edwin Garcia, who led the Blue Crabs with two hits in the game, put the visitors in front 2-1 with an RBI single, scoring Ryan Wiggins.
In Wednesday’s first game, which had an 11:05 a.m. start, Somerset began the rally in the bottom of the eighth with a Pacchioli single versus Craig Stem, the fourth Blue Crabs pitcher of the day.
Pacchioli then stole second base and Adam Donachie walked. Kyle Roller followed up with an RBI single to give the first-half Liberty Division champions its second walkoff win in 14 hours.
Somerset had just one hit going into the eighth.
Kahoohalahala singled with one out in the top of the eighth, but Brian Bistagne grounded into a 6-3 double play to end the inning.
Somerset starter Mike Antonini made his Patriots debut and went 3 1/3 innings, retiring the first 10 batters of the game, with four strikeouts. The 11th batter, Garcia, singled and Antonini was pulled as he was on a pitch count.
David Russo made his second start of the season for the Blue Crabs and picked up a no-decision. Russo threw 4 2/3 shutout innings, giving up just one hit with one strikeout and four walks. Sam Runion and Cody Hebner did not allow a hit in 2 1/3 innings of relief to keep the game scoreless through seven.
In the series opener Tuesday, Kelly hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to propel Somerset to the win.
The Blue Crabs took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third as Kahoohalahala singled with two outs and came home on an RBI double by Zach Cone, his 20th double of the season.
Following a 63-minute rain delay that interrupted play in the top of the seventh, the Blue Crabs tacked on another run on an RBI single by Luis Alen scoring L.J. Hoes. Hoes led off the top of the inning with a
double before the rain delay.
In the bottom of the ninth, Pacchioli reached on an error by Palmeiro at third base, marking the first Somerset baserunner to reach base since the third inning when Pacchioli walked with one out.
Blue Crabs closer Cody Eppley struck out Yovan Gonzalez for the first out of the inning. Then Roller singled to put two on with one out.
Mark Minicozzi sent a ground ball to Garcia at shortstop who bobbled the ball and that error loaded the bases. A cleanly-fielded ball by Garcia would have been a game-ending 6-4-3 double play and a Blue Crabs win.
However, Somerset took advantage as Eppley walked Carlos Guzman with the bases loaded to bring in a run, then Eppley hit Zach Racusin with a pitch, also with the bases loaded, to force in another run to tie the game at 2.
Still with bases loaded, Kelly knocked in pinch-runner Trapp with the game-winning base hit.
Eppley (1-4) suffered the loss, allowing all three runs, though none of them were earned.
Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes did not factor into the decision, pitching six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits with one walk and two strikeouts. Hayes retired the last 11 Somerset batters that he faced and threw 98 pitches on the night.
Jesse Beal pitched a perfect seventh and Zack Thornton did the same in the eighth to make it 17 straight batters retired heading into the ninth.
Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes pitched to a no-decision as Somerset rallied with three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 3-2 in the series opener Tuesday night at TD Bank Ballpark in New Jersey. The right-hander threw six scoreless innings, allowing four hits with two strikeouts and one walk.