Blue Crabs edge Bridgeport on late homer
Lozada’s homer in 8th inning beats Bluefish; rain postpones first-half title game to Aug. 14
It has been a tough stretch lately for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.
Entering Monday night’s series opener versus Bridgeport at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, the Blue Crabs had lost eight out of their last 10 games, including two of three over the weekend at home versus the Lancaster Barnstormers.
However, things turned around for at least one night as third baseman Jose Lozada broke a 3-all tie in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff home run off of reliever Wander Perez to lead the Blue Crabs to a 4-3 victory over the Bluefish.
It was just Lozada’s fifth homer of the season.
“This is a big win to get us back on the winning track,” said Lozada, who finished with two hits. “Coming into the inning, I knew the pitcher was a lefty that was a side arm thrower. Everyone was talking about how hard he threw against us last time. It was a 1-1 pitch down the middle and I was able to hit it out.”
Game two of the series was Tuesday and the series finale is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. today.
“We’re playing I think the best team in the league,” Blue Crabs manager John Harris said. “We are fortunate to win with good pitching and timely hitting. Hopefully, we can continue this type of pitching and work moving forward.”
Cody Eppley came on for the ninth and allowed a leadoff single to Sean Burroughs and uncorked a wild pitch to put the tying run into scoring position. With two outs and tying run now at third, Eppley struck out Wellington Dotel to end the game and notch his 26th save of the season.
Southern Maryland took a 3-0 lead in the fourth on a one-out RBI double by Michael Snyder — his Atlantic League-leading 29th of the season — and a two-run home run by L.J. Hoes (3 hits), his first as a Blue Crab.
Bridgeport scored its first run of the game on a Tony Abreu groundout in the fifth. In the seventh, the lead was cut to 3-2 on a two-out solo homer from Daniel Fields. Luis Hernandez then tied the game at 3 on a one-out RBI single.
Despite allowing the tying run to score, Blue Crabs reliever Zack Thornton picked up the win to go to 2-1. Starter Eric Fornataro, in his home debut, left with the lead but picks up a no-decision. Fornataro threw the first six innings and gave up just a run on five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.
Freedom Division title game postponed
Mother Nature won the battle on Friday as Southern Maryland and Lancaster were scheduled to play for the Freedom Division first-half championship at Regency. After a near 2-hour delay, the game was postponed and rescheduled to 6:35 p.m. Aug. 14, which was scheduled to be a day off for both teams.
Saturday and Sunday the teams played second-half contests, splitting a doubleheader with a 5-4 Barnstomers win in Game 1 and a 2-1 Blue Crabs win in Game 2. Sunday, Lancaster pulled out a 4-2 win.
In Sunday’s series finale, Sean Halton’s grand slam in the top of the fourth accounted for all four runs the Barnstomers scored.
Snyder collected a two-run homer in the bottom of the frame, his third of the weekend to tie for the league lead with 21 through Monday.
“I’m just trying to do my part in helping this team win,” Snyder said. “This is the best team that I’ve been a part of and I’m excited to see what this team is going to accomplish. It is always tough to lose a series, but we played hard [this weekend]. We had a couple opportunities in each game, we just came up short. But we will bounce back.”
In the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and one out, Cory Vaughn hit into a double play to end the game.
Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes suffered the loss, falling to 5-5. Hayes went six innings and allowed four runs on three hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
Cole Garner delivered with three hits and drove in four runs to lead the Barnstormers in Saturday’s doubleheader opener.
Garner gave Lancaster a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-out ground rule double. The Barnstormers put up three more runs on Trayvon Robinson’s RBI double and a two-run homer from Garner off of Blue Crabs starter Daryl Thompson over the left-field wall, pushing the lead to 5-0.
The Blue Crabs got on the board in the bottom of the fifth on a Hoes two-out double and scored three more runs in the seventh on Lozada’s RBI double, Hoes’ sacrifice fly and a Snyder RBI groundout, but Vaughn grounded out to end the game. Atlantic League doubleheader contests are two seven-inning regulation contests.
Thompson, the 2003 La Plata graduate, took the loss, to fall to 5-6. He went five innings, allowing all five runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and three walks.
In Game 2, the Blue Crabs snapped their five-game losing streak as Snyder hit leadoff home runs in the second and fourth.
Halton hit a two-out solo homer tie the game at 1 in the top of the fourth before Snyder responded with a homer in the bottom in the frame.
Blue Crabs starter Gaby Hernandez got the win on the hill, surrendering just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts and did not walk a batter. He improved to 8-1 on the season and led the league with 104 strikeouts through Monday.
Eppley came on for the seventh and survived a two-out walk to pick up his 25th save.
Blue Crabs third baseman Jose Lozada, pictured far right, is congratulated by teammate Edwin Garcia after his eventual-game winning solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat the Bridgeport Bluefish 4-3 in the first of a three-game series on Monday night at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
Blue Crabs first baseman Michael Snyder finished with five hits, four coming on homers in three games versus Lancaster. Snyder also had a RBI double in Monday’s 4-3 win in over Bridgeport on Monday. Snyder is tied for the most home runs in the Atlantic League through Monday with 21 and leads the league in doubles with 29.