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BLUE CRABS PINCH OFF ‘STORMERS WITH DEFENSE

Southern Maryland Grabs Season Series Finale, 4-3

Southern Maryland’s bats produced a quick 4-0 lead on Thursday evening. Their gloves made sure the Barnstormers could not overturn it.

Antoan Richardson made two great running catches in center, and Gary Brown made a diving save on the right side of the infield as the Blue Crabs fended off the Barnstormers for a 4-3 victory at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

The season series between the two clubs ended at 10 games apiece with the visiting squad winning seven in each ballpark.

Southern Maryland put continual pressure on Lancaster starter Anthony Fernandez (1-2). The Blue Crabs left five runners on base in the first two innings before finally breaking through in the third. Alfredo Marte singled to center and stole second. Zach Wilson was hit by a pitch, and Angel Flores flared a single into right as Marte scored easily.

Three more runs crossed in the fourth inning. Richardson doubled to right center to open the inning, the only Southern Maryland leadoff man to get on base in the game. Angel Sanchez bunted Richardson to third. Atlantic League career hits leader Bryant Nelson lifted a fly ball to right center. Right fielder Caleb Gindl and center fielder Trayvon Robinson had a brief moment of miscommunication, and the ball fell between for another double and a 2-0 lead. Fernandez departed after walking Marte.

That brought R.J. Hively on to face Wilson. A wild pitch on a 1-2 offering moved the runners to second and third. An intentional walk was eventually ordered to load the bases. Hively retired Flores on a fly out to medium right without an extra run scoring, but Eric Garcia rolled a single up the middle to produce two for a 4-0 lead.

Southern Maryland’s defensive display began in the first when Sanchez made a sprawling catch on Josh Bell’s low pop fly into foul ground near the third base coach’s box.

It was continued in the fifth. Kevin Ahrens lined a single to left to get a Lancaster rally starter. Charlie Cutler’s sharp grounder appeared ticketed for right field, but Brown made a diving stop to his left, getting Cutler at first. Yusuke Kajimoto blooped a single into left sending Ahrens to third. Gindl yanked a 3-2 pitch from Brian Grening (7-4) onto the picnic deck for a three-run homer, slicing the lead to one.

After Pete Andrelczyk got Hively out of a two-out jam in the sixth, the Barnstormers went back to work. Sean Halton singled to right center to put the tying run on base. Mike Jacobs flied to left, bringing up Ahrens. The Lancaster shortstop jolted a 400-ft. drive to the gap in left center, the deepest portion of Clipper Magazine Stadium. Richardson, who made a terrific over-the-shoulder catch against Jacobs in dead center in the fourth, raced toward the fence, crashing into the signage at full speed, holding onto the ball to deny Ahrens a game-tying extra base hit.

Bullpens took over the game, which saw only one additional baserunner. Scott Snodgress, Craig Stem and Cody Eppley combined to retire all 10 batters they faced on the night with Eppley earning his 20th save.

The Barnstormers head to Long Island on Friday to start a three-game series against the Ducks. Lancaster will send right-hander Joey Maher (0-1) to the hill against right-hander John Brownell. Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel beginning at 6:15.

NOTES: Evan Meek pitched his sixth perfect inning in seven appearances with Lancaster…Ahrens, Gindl and Robinson all continued hitting streaks to seven games…Halton has hit safely in six in a row…Prior to the game, K.C. Hobson was named the Barnstormers Booster Club’s Player of the Month for July…Fernandez announced prior to the game he is heading home, leaving an open spot in the Lancaster starting rotation…Andrew Albers, who opened the season on the Barnstormers roster and threw a complete game shutout at Southern Maryland, was called up to Minnesota as the 26th man for a doubleheader against Houston and threw six innings in relief…He is the third player to go from the ‘Stormers to the big leagues this season.