The Lancaster Barnstormers started and finished strong on Friday night, but it was the bullpen that saw the team through the extra-inning marathon.
Lancaster’s relief staff allowed only three hits and one unearned run, and the Barnstormers finally rewarded the effort with a six-run eleventh inning as Lancaster prevailed over the host Long Island Ducks, 11-5, at Fairfield Properties Ballpark.
The Barnstormers jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the top of the first as Melvin Mercedes tripled and scored on a bloop single to right by Andretty Cordero. LeDarious Clark walked, and Colton Shaver sent a three-run homer over the boards in left.
That lead evaporated over the next three innings. Deibinson Romero singled home one run off starter Cameron Gann in the second. Long Island made up the rest of the deficit in the third. Austin Rei led off with a double down the right field line. One out later, Vladimir Frias yanked a double into the right field corner. Alejandro DeAza reached when his swinging third strike bounced away from Anthony Peroni, and Sam Travis made it 4-3 with a single to center. Gann fanned Romero for the second out, but Rusney Castillo tied the score with a single to center, chasing the starter from the game. Bret Clarke took over and, following a wild pitch, retired Joe DeCarlo on a liner to short.
That started the relievers’ brilliant stretch, and, for a while, it appeared that Clarke would get the win thanks to Kelly Dugan’s one-out homer to center in the fifth.
Things went haywire with one out in the seventh. Clarke hit L.J. Mazzilli with his final pitch. With Erik Cha on the mound, Mazzilli stole second, then daringly went to third on a ground out by Frias. On the play, Cordero tried to make a throw back to third but fired the ball over Trace Loehr’s head, allowing the tying run to score. Cha walked and hit the next two batters before Tyler Suellentrop came to the rescue and got the final out.
With the offense stalled, the Barnstormers needed the bullpen to keep the success going. Chase Johnson survived a pair of singles in the eighth. West Tunnell erased a walk with a double play in the ninth.
After the Barnstormers lost their “courtesy” runner on a pickoff in the top of the tenth, Cole Aker (1-1) took over and got three outs with pinch runner Johnni Turbo never moving from second base.
The Barnstormers tore into Kai-Wei Lin (1-2) in the 11th. Anthony Peroni tripled to left center to score Anderson Fleiz with the lead run. Loehr singled Peroni home. Shawon Dunston, Jr. followed with a perfect bunt single. Mercedes and Dugan each delivered an RBI single into right. Mercedes scored on a throwing error, and the inning was capped by Feliz’ RBI single to left.
Aker slammed the door in the bottom of the inning.
Doubleheader baseball is on tap for Saturday. Oscar De La Cruz (2-0) and Erik Manoah (1-1) will start for Lancaster against Akeel Morris (3-4) and Cody Breckman (1-1) for Long Island. Fans may tune into the YouTube Channel at 5:00.