Blue Crabs win back-to-back se­ries

Russo al­lows just 2 hits over 6 1/3 in­nings in fi­nale win over Lan­caster

The Calvert Recorder - - Sports - By AJ MASON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com

En­ter­ing the fi­nal week of the At­lantic League reg­u­lar sea­son, South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs man­ager James Fris­bie feels pretty good about his base­ball team and for good rea­son.

Be­hind stel­lar pitch­ing from starter David Russo and timely hit­ting, the Blue Crabs were able to edge the Lan­caster Barn­storm­ers 3-1 in Sun­day af­ter­noon’s fi­nale of a three-game se­ries at Clip­per Mag­a­zine Sta­dium in Lan­caster, Pa.

The win wrapped up South­ern

Mary­land’s sec­ond straight se­ries vic­tory.

The Blue Crabs dropped the se­ries opener Fri­day 7-2, then came back to win the last two, tak­ing Satur­day’s con­test 10-7. Be­fore that, they swept Som­er­set in Thurs­day’s dou­ble­header at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf with 4-2 and 3-1 wins to take two of three in that se­ries which in­cluded a loss in the opener last week.

South­ern Mary­land (6767 over­all, 28-36 Free­dom Di­vi­sion sec­ond half) was 8 games back of York in the sec­ond-half di­vi­sion stand­ings en­ter­ing Tues­day. Mon­day was the first off day — mi­nus rain­outs — for the Blue Crabs since Aug. 3 and they were 18-21 dur­ing that stretch with five se­ries wins.

The Blue Crabs started a three-game se­ries in York on Tues­day and it con­tin­ues tonight and Thurs­day, then they re­turn home to wrap up the reg­u­lar sea­son ver­sus

New Bri­tain with three games Fri­day to Sun­day. The At­lantic League play­offs be­gin a week from to­day for the team against an op­po­nent not yet de­ter­mined.

Lan­caster (72-67, 34-30) was 2 games be­hind York en­ter­ing Tues­day with Su­gar Land (63-71, 33-31) 3 games back.

“The guys played very loose this week­end,” Fris­bie said. “We had no pres­sure and as long as we’re healthy we can do some things in the play­offs. We have to keep play­ing with a sense of ur­gency and we can play spoiler with the sec­ond-half race. So we will face an­other good team in York who is the leader in the di­vi­sion.”

Russo re­tired the first 11 hit­ters he faced to start Sun­day’s con­test and had a no-hit­ter un­til Lan­caster’s Trayvon Robin­son broke it up with a sin­gle up the mid­dle with two outs in the bot­tom of the sixth

The lefty got the win to go to 2-3, giv­ing up no runs on two hits with four strike­outs and one walk in 6 1/3 in­nings.

“It felt re­ally good. Al-

ways nice to get a ‘W’ and I was happy I was able to keep the team in the game af­ter they scored a few runs for me,” Russo said. “I was mak­ing good pitches [yes­ter­day] and had a very good de­fense be­hind me.”

South­ern Mary­land got the scor­ing started in the top of the first when Ed­win Gar­cia hit a dou­ble to left field and later scored on an RBI sin­gle by Nate Sam­son, who signed with the team on Fri­day.

Sam­son then took sec­ond on the play and scored when Michael Snyder hit a sin­gle to left, push­ing the lead to 2-0.

Sam­son, who went 6 for 14 in the se­ries, pre­vi­ously played for Sioux City in the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion this sea­son where he bat­ted .302.

“I’m very ex­cited to join the team and con­trib­ute right away,” said Sam­son, who played at sec­ond base in the se­ries. “With us beat­ing a good team in Lan­caster in a se­ries is per­fect tim­ing to get ac­cli­mated with the team. Ev­ery­one has wel­comed me with open arms.”

The Blue Crabs added

a run in the fifth on Jose Lozada’s RBI sin­gle for the game’s third run.

The shutout was bro­ken up with two outs in the ninth on Sean Hal­ton’s RBI sin­gle.

Blue Crabs closer Cody Ep­p­ley forced Steve Cle­venger to ground­out into a force play to end the game, notch­ing his 32nd save of the sea­son which is tops in the At­lantic League.

Satur­day, the Blue Crabs scored five runs in the sec­ond, capped by Devon Ro­driguez’s tworun sin­gle, but Lan­caster scored six in the third to go up 6-5 capped by Josh Bell’s three-run home run.

South­ern Mary­land re­sponded in the fourth as Sam­son’s RBI sin­gle tied the game, then he scored on Ro­driguez’s two-out sin­gle to make it 7-6. In the fifth, Tucker Nathans’ bases-clear­ing dou­ble to left boosted the Blue Crabs’ lead to 10-6.

Lan­caster coun­tered with an RBI dou­ble from Beau Amaral in the bot­tom of the sixth and had the ty­ing run at the plate with no outs but did not

score again.

Blue Crabs starter Brian Gren­ing got the win de­spite giv­ing up six runs on 10 hits with two strike­outs and three walks in five in­nings. Ep­p­ley de­liv­ered a per­fect ninth for the save.

Lozada, who had seven hits in the se­ries, fin­ished with four hits and Sam­son had three in the game.

Fri­day, Snyder brought South­ern Mary­land to within 3-2 in the top of the sixth on his league-ty­ing 24th homer of the sea­son, a two-out solo blast, but Lan­caster scored four two-out runs in the bot­tom of the in­ning and held on the rest of the way.

Eric For­nataro dropped to 0-8 on the sea­son, 0-6 as a Blue Crab, al­low­ing three runs (2 earned) on five hits with four strike­outs and six walks in five in­nings.

Blue Crabs sweep twin­bill over Pa­tri­ots

In Game 1 Thurs­day, the Blue Crabs scored three runs in the first on a bases-loaded walk to Ro­driguez and back-to­back RBI sin­gles from Cory Vaughn and Pa­trick Palmeiro.

Som­er­set’s Kyle Roller cut the lead to within one in the top of the fourth on a two-run homer. The Blue Crabs pushed the lead back to two runs on a Palmeiro two-out solo homer in the sixth.

Blue Crabs starter Daryl Thomp­son, a 2003 La Plata High School grad­u­ate, picked up the win to go to 9-6. Thomp­son al­lowed just two runs on six hits in six in­nings with three strike­outs with no walks. Ep­p­ley had a score­less sev­enth for his 30th save. At­lantic League dou­ble­head­ers are two seven-in­ning reg­u­la­tion con­tests.

In Game 2, the Blue Crabs trailed 1-0 un­til Kalaika Ka­hooha­la­hala hit a two-run homer in the fifth. Ro­driguez added a sac­ri­fice fly in the sixth to cap off the scor­ing.

Blue Crabs starter Drew Hayes earned the win to even his record at 8-8. Hayes gave up just one run on four hits in 5 2/3 in­nings with six strike­outs and four walks.

PHOTO BY BERT HINDMAN

Blue Crabs start­ing pitcher David Russo pitched 6 1/3 score­less in­nings, al­low­ing just two hits with four strike­outs and one walk in Sun­day’s 3-1 vic­tory over Lan­caster in a three-game se­ries fi­nale. Russo re­tired the first 11 hit­ters he faced to start Sun­day’s con­test and had a no-hit­ter through 5 2/3 in­nings.

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