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Lancaster takes all three games

By AJ MASONStaff writer

27 hits, 22 runs and eight home runs combined.

Those were just some of the statistics when the dust settled after Wednesday night’s three-hour slugfest in front of 4,138 fans in attendance at Waldorf’s Regency Furniture Stadium as the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs took on Lancaster in the final game of their three-game series, which also completed the Blue Crabs’ nine-game homestand.

The Blue Crabs outhit Lancaster 16-11, but it was the Barnstormers who took the big lead early and held on to the eventual 13-9 victory to complete the series sweep.

Lancaster also won on Tuesday night, 8-1.

Lancaster (37-22 overall), which took a six-run lead in the third inning and a nine-run lead in the fifth, is still atop the Freedom Division with 11 games remaining until the All-Star break entering Thursday.

“It was definitely a good night to be a hitter, the ball was carrying a lot,” said Lancaster manager Butch Hobson, the former Blue Crabs skipper whose Barnstormers have won 22 of its last 29 games. “It’s always a pleasure to come back here where I was able to help start the organization; the fans are great here in Southern Maryland.”

The Blue Crabs (27-32) have on won only three games of its last 10 games, and are 7 1/2 games back of Long Island for the top spot in the Liberty Division with 10 games remaining until the All-Star break beginning today. They entered a four-game series at Camden, which kicked off Thursday night and finished too late for inclusion into this edition.

“We got swept and I wish we could’ve played better the first two games, but I am proud of our team of the way we came back after being down big early,” Blue Crabs manager Patrick Osborn said. “We played hard until the final out.”

The Barnstormers scored all 13 of their runs in the first five innings. With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the third, designated hitter Ryan Harvey broke the game open.

Harvey crushed the first of his two home runs in the game, coming on a grand slam off of Blue Crabs starter Matthew Vasquez, giving Lancaster an 8-2 advantage.

“I just wanted to go up to the plate and battle every day,” said the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Harvey. “Success starts in practice and since I’ve been getting a lot of playing time, I’ve got in a rhythm. The sweep is huge, every win counts and we want to win this first half.”

After a five-run third, Lancaster added three more runs in the fourth that was capped by shortstop Jamie Pedroza’s solo homer.

Harvey led off the fifth with a bomb over the left field wall for his second homer of the contest and catcher Francisco Hernandez added another solo homer to finish off the team’s scoring.

“I got a 2-0 fastball and I got a good reaction on it, that was probably the farthest that I’ve hit in a long time,” said Harvey, whose homer went nearly 400 feet over the left field wall.

Harvey was 3 for 5 with 5 RBIs, a double and three runs scored, while Pedroza also had three hits, three RBIs and two runs scored.

“Harvey has really been hitting the ball well lately,” Hobson said. “That grand slam really changed things for us. It’s still some things that we have to work on that I didn’t like tonight.”

“Harvey is a big guy and he really saw the ball well,” Osborn said. “Lancaster had some thunder and that’s why they are the best team in our league. Maybe this is the turning point for us, but we’re going to take one game at a time.”

The Blue Crabs had homers from designated hitter Brian Barton, third baseman Matt Padgett, right fielder Mike Daniel and center fielder Jeremy Owens.

With one out and Barton on first, Owens hit a two-run homer in the seventh to cut the Lancaster lead to 13-8. Later in the inning, catcher Christian Lopez scored on a balk, but it wasn’t enough.

The Blue Crabs had four players with three hits, as second baseman Chin-Lung Hu, Barton and Lopez combined for nine hits. Barton and Owens also scored two runs each on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, the Blue Crabs had seven hits on one run, while Lancaster has 15 hits. Hu, Jesse Gutierrez, and Barton had two hits each for the Blue Crabs.

Lancaster took a 4-0 lead in the first inning and added two in the fifth and seventh innings.

Alan Johnson got the win for the Barnstormers, pitching seven innings, striking out five batters, giving up six hits and the lone run, which came in the fourth frame. Nick Green got the loss for the Crabs, going four innings, yielding five runs, three walks, eight hits, and striking out one batter.

Gutierrez scored Barton’s single in the fourth for the Blue Crabs’ lone run of the game.

Leading Lancaster was third baseman Terry Tiffee, who was 3 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Four other Barnstormers had two hits each.