Nathans’ grand slam lifts Blue Crabs to second straight series win
Nathans grand slam lifts team in finale over Somerset
Tucker Nathans has only been on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs for two weeks and is making the most of his opportunities.
With the three-game series tied at 1 and his team trailing, Nathans connected with a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning to spark a five-run outburst, catapulting the Blue Crabs to the 7-4 come-from-behind victory Sunday at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
It was the third home run for the New York native since he signed with the Blue Crabs on Aug. 7.
Nathans had struck out in his first two at-bats Sunday before delivering the game-breaking hit off of Somerset reliever Keith Hessler.
“It was two outs and I got a 2-1 fastball. That was a good pitch to hit and I connected on it,” Nathans said. “We were about to get guys on base and that help set things up for me. I’ve been here for two weeks with the team and everyone has made me feel welcoming. I’m having a lot of fun right now.”
The Blue Crabs added another run in the eighth as Kalaika Kahoohalahala scored on a wild pitch.
Devon Rodriguez and Cory Vaughn led off the seventh with back-to-back singles. With one out, Patrick Palmeiro drew a walk to load the bases. After Ryan Wiggins struck out, Edwin Garcia walked to force home Rodriguez to trim the deficit to 4-2. Nathans then followed with his grand slam.
Somerset took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, but Southern Maryland tied the game at 1 in the fifth. Vaughn led off with a single, the first hit of the day for the Blue Crabs off Patriots starter Dave Kubiak. Vaughn stole second and third and came home on Palmeiro’s oneout RBI single.
Somerset then took a 4-1 lead in the sixth on a RBI single from Mark Minicozzi and a two-out two run single from Justin Pacchioli.
Blue Crabs reliever Sam Runion (2-2) picked up the win with a scoreless seventh inning of relief and closer Cody Eppley delivered with his 27th save of the season, pitching a scoreless ninth with one strikeout.
Blue Crabs starter Brian Grening picked up a no-decision as a result of the comeback. Grening allowed four runs on six hits with one strikeout and a walk in 5 1/3 innings.
The victory sealed up the second straight series win for the Blue Crabs, who also won two of three in New Britain capped by a 13-5 win on Thursday in the series finale.
Southern Maryland (56-56, 17-25 second half; 7 games behind York in the Freedom Division second-half standings) started a four-game series in Lancaster on Monday night, but the opener was called after 2 1/2 innings because of rain.
The Barnstormers held a 1-0 lead versus Blue Crabs starter Daryl Thompson, a 2003 La Plata High School graduate, but the stats will not count as the game did not reach the minimum five innings to be ruled official. Monday’s postponement will be made up as part of a doubleheader tonight.
Rain postponed the series opener with Somerset on Friday and was made part of a doubleheader on Saturday. Atlantic League doubleheaders are two seven-inning regulation games.
Somerset (62-51, 20-23) took Game 1 of the twinbill 3-1, but Southern Maryland scored twice in the bottom of the seventh in Game 2 for a 2-1 comefrom-behind win.
“Somerset has really good starting pitching and we were able to put some good at bats together,” Blue Crabs manager James Frisbie said. “We got a couple walks and Tucker’s grand slam was huge and put us over the top. We just want to keep plugging away and keep playing good baseball.”
Leading 1-0, Somerset starter Mike Antonini carried a no-hitter into the bottom of the seventh of Game 2.
Michael Snyder walked to begin the inning and was replaced on the basepaths by Brian Bistagne. Rodriguez notched the team’s first hit on a single, ending Antonini’s no-hit bid.
Dustin Molleken came out of the bullpen and was greeted with Cory Vaughn hitting his first pitch for an RBI single to put Southern Maryland on the board and tie the game. Zach Cone was retired on a sacrifice bunt, then Palmeiro was intentionally walked to load the bases. On a 0-ball, 1-strike pitch, Wiggins delivered with an RBI single to give the Blue Crabs the walk-off win.
Eppley picked up the win as he pitched a scoreless top of the seventh with one strikeout.
Blue Crabs starter Gaby Hernandez went five innings and allowed one run on three hits and struck out eight in a no-decision. Hernandez now has 133 strikeouts on the season, tops in the Atlantic League.
Three outs away from giving Somerset its no-hitter in franchise history, Antonini (1-1) took the hard-luck loss, having put the tying and winning runs on base before exiting.
In Game 1, the Blue Crabs outhit Somerset 7-4, but the Patriots scored twice in the third and added an insurance run in the seventh. Nathans drove in the Blue Crabs’ only run on a double in the bottom of the third.
Southern Maryland closed out the series in New Britain on Thursday thanks to a 5 for 6 performance at the plate from L.J. Hoes with a double, including a three-run homer in the sixth that gave it the lead for good at 7-5.
The Blue Crabs, who trailed 5-3 after two innings, hit five homers in the game and outhit the Bees 19-13. The 19 hits were a season high. The other homers came on a solo shots from Nathans, Rodriguez and Snyder.
Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes picked up the win on the hill, giving up five runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks in five innings.
Blue Crabs left fielder Tucker Nathans delivered with a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh to lift Southern Maryland to the eventual 7-4 victory in Sunday’s three-game series finale over Somerset. It was Nathan’s third homer in two weeks since joining the team.
Blue Crabs starter Brian Grening allowed four runs on six hits with one strikeout in a no-decision as Southern Maryland rallied back for a 7-4 win over Somerset at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.