Blue Crabs are ready to flip the switch

Look for a fresh start in sec­ond half

The Enterprise - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

The South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs don’t have to sit in last place any longer.

De­spite fin­ish­ing 26-37 in the Free­dom Divi­sion dur­ing the At­lantic League sea­son’s first half, the records have been re­set and the Blue Crabs have new goals and new ex­pec­ta­tions for the sec­ond half thus far.

South­ern Mary­land dropped two of three games against York to open the sec­ond half last week­end, but did tally a 4-3 walk-off win in 11 in­nings in Sun­day’s se­ries fi­nale at Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium in Wal­dorf on a Frank Martinez bases-loaded RBI sin­gle.

The Blue Crabs were off for five days and re­turn from the All-Star break with a three­game week­end se­ries on the road in New Britain, start­ing at 6:35 tonight. The team re­turns home next week with a three­game se­ries ver­sus Som­er­set be­gin­ning Tues­day and Lan­caster with a three-game week­end se­ries start­ing Fri­day.

“It was a tough first half for us, but we were in a lot of close ball­games,” said Blue Crabs man­ager James Fris­bie, whose Blue Crabs fin­ished with a 1514 record in the month of June, but was just 8-21 on the road in the first half. “We had a strong month of June, we just have to stay healthy and con­tinue to com­pete.”

The Blue Crabs have been with­out start­ing pitcher Daryl Thomp­son, a 2003 La Plata High Schol grad­u­ate, due to suf­fer­ing a bro­ken jaw in a June 21 game ver­sus New Britain. A timetable has not been set for his re­turn. Be­fore his in­jury, Thomp­son had a strong first half on the hill, post­ing a ERA of 1.96, cur­rently the low­est in the league among el­i­gi­ble pitch­ers.

South­ern Mary­land lost starter Bran­don Cump­ton, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A af­fil­i­ate Buf­falo Bisons on July 4. In the month of June, the righthander went 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA, key­ing a Blue Crabs pitch­ing staff that had a 3.65 ERA dur­ing that span.

With­out those key starters, Fris­bie men­tioned that the bullpen has per­formed well col­lec­tively through­out the sea­son, led by re­liever Sam Ru­nion and closer Cody Ep­p­ley.

“I like our bullpen, they are re­ally click­ing,” Fris­bie said. “As a pitch­ing staff we just have to com­pet­i­tive and see where the chips fall.”

In the bat­ting lineup, out­field- er Cory Vaughn, short­stop Ed­win Gar­cia, Martinez, out­fielder Ryan Straus­borger, and catcher Austin Green all have been key pieces in the bat­ting lineup and will con­tinue to be the back­bone as the sec­ond half of the sea­son goes on.

Vaughn is cur­rently third in the At­lantic League with 11 home runs.

“All those guys can hit and brings im­me­di­ate of­fense for us, it is all about con­sis­tency and driv­ing in runs,” Fris­bie said. “Ryan has done a great job lead­ing off and Austin Green has re­ally stepped up for us.”

Gar­cia men­tioned the ex­pec­ta­tions for him and the team mov­ing for­ward.

“Our goal as a team is to win the sec­ond half and I think we can do it,” said Gar­cia, who is bat­ting .246 with two home runs and 19 RBIs on the sea­son. “We just have to keep play­ing hard ev­ery day and good things will come.”

PHO­TOS BY BERT HIND­MAN

Above left. af­ter a 26-37 record in the At­lantic League Free­dom Divi­sion first half, man­ager James Fris­bie will look to help turn things around for his South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs dur­ing the sec­ond half of the sea­son. Above right, In­fielder Jon Grif­fin and the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs get ready to con­tinue the sec­ond half of the At­lantic League base­ball sea­son when it takes on the New Britain Bees on the road in a three-game week­end se­ries be­gin­ning tonight.

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