Blake Gailen found the perfect moment to set a record.
The Barnstormers’ OF/DH slugged a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game and eventually lead Lancaster to an 11-10 victory over the Somerset Patriots in a clash of division leaders Tuesday evening at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Gailen’s home run was his 498th career hit in a Lancaster uniform, breaking the old club record held by Jutt Hileman (2005-08).
The Barnstormers had grabbed a 4-0 lead over the first three innings, but Somerset charged ahead in the middle frames. Jerry Sands clubbed a two-run homer to the opposite field in the top of the fourth. Kyle Roller and Yovan Gonzalez followed with doubles to slice the lead to 4-3, and only a diving catch by Caleb Gindl on a short fly ball down the right field line by Justin Pacchioli kept the Patriots from tying the game.
Bryan Evans tossed his fourth 1-2-3 inning of the night in the fifth, but the Patriots got to the Lancaster starter again in the sixth inning. Sands led off with a single to left. One out later, Gonzalez lofted a fly ball that was caught by a fan in the front row of the right field picnic deck, giving the Patriots the lead. Tyler Bortnick reached on a slow bounder to third, and, with two outs, Pacchioli was hit by a pitch. Alfredo Rodriguez ended Evans’ night with a single over the head of shortstop Vladimir Frias, giving the Patriots a 6-4 lead. Scott Kelly tacked on two more with a triple to right center on the first pitch from R.J. Hively.
Lancaster battled back with three in the bottom of the sixth. Frias doubled home the first run, chasing Somerset starter Jerome Williams. Darian Sandford plated two more with a single to right, cutting the lead back to 8-7.
Somerset scored on a two-out, bases-loaded walk in the top of the seventh, and the first two Lancaster batters were retired on fly balls in the bottom of the inning. However, Justin Wright walked Sean Halton, and Gailen followed with his blast to right center to knot the score at 9-9.
Right-hander Kyler Newby (1-1) took over and walked Lastings Milledge, who stole second. Frias singled up the middle to get Milledge home barely ahead of Chris Grayson’s throw for a 10-9 lead. Anderson De La Rosa plated Frias with a sinking liner to right.
The insurance run proved necessary as Sands unloaded for the second time in the game, taking Kevin Munson (1-1) onto the picnic deck. Daniel Moskos got the final out in the eighth, and Anthony Carter took care of the Patriots in the ninth for his eighth save.
The two clubs meet again on Wednesday at 6:30 with Mitch Atkins (3-3) working against Lancaster lefty Rommie Lewis (2-3). Fans may tune into Blue Ridge Cable, beginning with the first pitch.
NOTES: With Southern Maryland and Sugar Land both losing, the Barnstormers opened up a three-game lead over the Blue Crabs in the Freedom Division…Carter has converted his last seven save chances…K.C. Hobson temporarily took the Atlantic League home run lead with a two-run shot in the first, but Sands tied, then passed him…Before striking out in the ninth, Gonzalez was 7-for-9 with four extra base hits off Lancaster pitching on the year…The Barnstormers tied their season high with the 11 runs…The Barnstormers have played 18 nine-inning games in over three hours this season…The pitching staff reached double figures in strikeouts for the 18th time…Darian Sandford had his 18thmulti-hit game of the season.