Lancaster Falls, 9-8, in Matinee
Over the past 11 games, the Lancaster Barnstormers’ bullpen had been dominant.
Their hot spell came to an end early Wednesday as the Bridgeport Bluefish erupted for five runs in the bottom of the eighth to seize a 9-8 victory in the middle game of a three-game series.
The setback drops the Barnstormers 2 ½ games behind the division leading York Revolution, pending the outcome of York’s game against Long Island Wednesday evening.
Al Yevoli, who had not allowed a run since May 5, came on to start the bottom of the eighth with Lancaster ahead, 8-4. The left-hander worked ahead of Endy Chavez, 0-2, but the Major League veteran fought off a breaking pitch, dropping it into left field for a leadoff single. Yevoli retired Jose Cuevas on a line drive to short for the first out, but designated hitter Dan Johnson slugged a two-run homer, his second blast of the day, down the right field line to cut the lead to two.
Pinch hitter Luis Nunez continued the rally with a bouncer toward the middle that deflected off Yevoli’s throwing had for an infield single. Scott Gracey took over and struck out Jonathan Galvez for the second out. A wild pitch advanced Nunez to second, and Josh Vitters plated the run with a single to right center. Rossmel Perez chopped a single through the hole on the right side, and Anthony Giansanti tied the game as his ground ball to the left of shortstop Kevin Ahrens stayed low and skipped into center. Giansanti stole second. Gracey (2-1) walked switch hitter Luis Hernandez to load the bases. Lancaster went to Matt Reynolds, who uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Perez to score the deciding tally.
The ‘Stormers had grabbed the 8-4 lead in the seventh when Ahrens roped a grand slam to left, chasing Jonathan Albaladejo from the game.
Lancaster had also taken a 3-0 lead in the first, keyed by Josh Whitaker’s two-run double to left center. Johnson, a converted first baseman who started on the mound for Bridgeport on Tuesday evening, belted his first home run of the day leading off the second. Chavez added a two-run homer in the sixth to tie the game at 4-4.
Paul Demny (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two, in his Atlantic League debut. Taylor Thompson allowed a leadoff bunt single to Travis Witherspoon in the ninth to earn his third save.
NOTES: The Barnstormers have allowed three late inning leads of two or more runs to get away, all on the road, dropping similar games at Long Island and New Britain in the ninth…Ahrens’ grand slam was Lancaster’s first of the season…The shortstop has 16 RBI in his last nine games and has retaken the league lead with 34 overall…Caleb Gindl reached base for the 17th consecutive game and has been aboard in 28 of his last 29…Mike McDade singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 14 games…Josh Wall pitched a scoreless seventh, his first work in ten days.