BARNSTORMERS SCRAPE BY, 12-11
In the alternate universe of Atlantic League Baseball 2021, Sunday afternoon started with Darian Sandford’s first career homer and ended with Blake Gailen’s first career save.
Between those two events, York used 11 walks in a span of two innings to rally from a 12-3 deficit but fell one short as the Barnstormers prevailed, 12-11.
Over the three-game series, of which Lancaster won two, the clubs combined to produce 64 runs on 70 hits and 52 walks. The three games took 11 hours and 42 minutes to play.
To be sure, the entire weekend was a venture into the bizarre but perhaps none more than Sunday afternoon’s marathon at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Sandford reached the picnic deck in right field on the first pitch from lefty starter Tommy Shirley (2-0), but Lancaster roared back in the bottom of the inning. Alejandro De Aza and Melvin Mercedes opened the inning with singles. Austin Steinfort (0-2) retired Gailen, but the Barnstormers unloaded. LeDarious Clark belted his third homer of the series, taking Steinfort out of the yard on a liner to right center. Kelly Dugan belted another to right center, and Blake Allemand went deep down the right field line. They became the first Lancaster trio to homer consecutively since 2015.
Five more Lancaster runs scored in a messy bottom of the second. Clark picked up his fourth RBI of the afternoon as he was hit by a pitch. Dugan banged a two-run single. Allemand and Devon Torrence added sac flies for a 10-1 lead. Melvin Mercedes added an RBI triple in the fifth and scored when Sandford overran the carom.
Shirley held that lead through six, allowing five hits and three runs. The lefty walked one and struck out seven in notching his second win of the season.
Then came the walk-a-thon. Jamarcus Lang retired the leadoff hitter in the seventh before issuing five straight bases on balls. Garrett Granitz replaced him and allowed a grand slam on a 3-2 pitch to Nellie Rodriguez, cutting the lead to 12-9. Two walks and a single later, the bases were loaded. Granitz left with an undisclosed injury, and was replaced by Junior Rincon, who got Andrew Dundon to foul out.
Rincon, who had already thrown eight innings over five appearances, walked four batters and yielded a pair of sacrifice flies in the bottom of the eighth to narrow the Lancaster lead to one.
With Scott Shuman unavailable after throwing two innings on Saturday, the short-handed Barnstormers turned to Gailen, coming in from right field in the ninth. The lefty struck out Tyler Hill and Dundon for the first two outs, but Sandford drew a full count walk. Before the first pitch to Edwin Figuera, Gailen made a move to first and picked off Sandford to end the game in a manner worthy of the day’s weirdness.
NOTES: Mercedes racked up his sixth multi-hit game of the season…Clark, Dugan and Granitz all left the game with injuries…Allemand played four positions, going from SS to RF to LF to 3B…The last trio to hit consecutive home runs was Lance Zawadzki, Brian Cavazos-Galvez and Luke Hughes at Southern Maryland in 2015…The Barnstormers stayed in first with a 6-4 record on the season.