Darian Sandford’s speed and Garrett Weber’s bat led the charge as the Lancaster Barnstormers defeated the Sugar Land Skeeters, 10-6, Saturday evening at Clipper Magazine.
Sandford went 3-for-4 with three steals and three runs scored while Weber homered and drove in three runs in the win, evening the series at one game apiece.
It was Sandford that boosted the Barnstormers early. The speedy centerfielder drew a five-pitch walk from Zech Zinicola (0-2), stole second, took third on a Caleb Gindl flare to left and came home on an infield out by K.C. Hobson.
After Sugar Land had tied the game at 2-2, Sandford opened the third inning with a bunt single after ducking around first baseman Andy Wilkins’ tag attempt. Again, Sandford took off, stealing second easily. Gindl again singled, this time on a liner to right center, and Sandford carried home the tiebreaking run. Following two outs, Blake Gailen walked to extend the inning. Lastings Milledge and Weber extended the lead with consecutive RBI singles.
Sandford’s speed created issues for both clubs in the fourth. Anderson De La Rosa led off with a single to left, and Sandford followed with a grounder into the hole at shortstop. Josh Prince attempted to force De La Rosa, but a high throw eluded Anthony Giansanti and rolled into right field. Sandford bolted for second, but De La Rosa remained at the bag, creating a logjam. De La Rosa conceded the out, leaving Sandford on base. He promptly stole third and scored on a passed ball for a 6-2 lead.
Weber homered in the fifth and drove home another run on a long ground rule double in the seventh, Lancaster’s fourth straight hit to open a three-run inning.
Rommie Lewis (1-1) yielded a two-run homer to Chase Patterson in the top of the third and eight hits over the first three innings to pitch a quality start. The left-hander retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced and ended his night with no walks and five strikeouts over six innings.
Sugar Land was able to produce four runs over the final two innings against Lancaster’s bullpen. Giansanti pounded a homer to left off Cody Hall in the eighth, and Wilkins singled home a run off Anthony Carter in the ninth to narrow the margin.
The two clubs meet for the series finale Sunday afternoon at 2:00. Lancaster will send right-hander Elih Villanueva to the hill against right-hander Kyle Drabek. Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel beginning at 1:45.
NOTES: Sandford has eight steals in the last five games…K.C. Hobson extended his hitting streak to eight games with an opposite field looper in the eighth…Milledge has hit safely in seven in a row…Kevin Munson struck out the side in the seventh inning…He has fanned eight of the last 10 batters he has faced…The Barnstormers have drawn 14,322 over the first two games of the season.