Anthony Giansanti was a double short of the cycle, and Josh Prince drove home two runs as the Sugar Land Skeeters defeated the Lancaster Barnstormers, 5-3, in the opener of a four-game weekend series at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.
The loss left the Barnstormers two games behind the Skeeters in the Freedom Division.
Already leading, 1-0, on a throwing error in the second, Sugar Land knocked out starter Rommie Lewis (2-2) with three in the fourth. Lance Zawadzki grounded a single into center to start the inning and scored when Giansanti drilled a triple beyond Caleb Gindl’s reach in right center. Lewis walked the next two batters, and Prince capitalized on the opportunity with a ground single into center driving home two.
Lewis and the bullpen staved off any more harm in the fourth, but Giansanti tacked on a fifth run with a one-out solo homer to left in the fifth.
Jake Hale (3-0) kept the Barnstormers in check through five, but Lancaster mounted an attack in the sixth. Sean Halton singled inside the first base bag with one out, and K.C. Hobson followed with a walk. Hale induced a force play grounder out of Lastings Milledge for the second out, but Blake Gailen came through with a single into center to plate Lancaster’s first run. Kevin Ahrens clubbed a double into the left field corner on a 3-2 offering to score two more, but the rally died on Vladimir Frias’ deep fly to right.
Darian Sandford walked with one out in the seventh. Hale picked him off, but the Lancaster speedster escaped the rundown when Prince had the ball roll out of his glove. On the next pitch, Caleb Gindl ripped a liner at first baseman Travis Scott for a double play.
Lancaster never brought the tying run to the plate afterward.
The game ended on a quirky play. Frias trickled a grounder up the first base line and reached base safely when pitcher Evan Reed had the ball slip out of his grasp on an attempted throw. Frias ended up in fair territory, and, when the umpiring crew conversed, they ruled Frias out a later tag for turning the bag into fair territory.
Lancaster sends Elih Villanueva (1-1) to the hill against Michael Nix (1-3) on Friday evening. Fans may tune into the Barnstormers’ YouTube Channel, beginning at 7:45 EDT.
NOTES: Ahrens drove in at least one run for the eighth consecutive game, leaving him one shy of the club record of nine…The Barnstormers picked up at least eight hits for the 17th straight game but fell one short of getting to four runs each game over the same span…Gindl extended a hitting streak to seven…Lancaster pitching struck out 13.