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Barnstormers Break Tie on Rare Ruling

What looked like an inning ending 3-2-3 double play turned into a positive for the Lancaster Barnstormers.

Catcher’s interference was ruled to allow the go-ahead run to score, and Wilson Garcia followed with a three-run double to the gap in right center as the Lancaster Barnstormers topped the Long Island Ducks, 9-5, in the opening game of the best-of-five North Division series at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

In the South, High Point scored twice in the top of the tenth inning to take a 3-1 decision in the series opener at Gastonia.

Lancaster lead, 4-1, heading into the sixth when the Ducks scored three runs without the benefit of a base hit.  Sam Travis and Alejandro de Aza drew leadoff walks.  Carlos Castro stroked a grounder toward the middle which was fielded by Lancaster shortstop Yeison Coca.  Coca dashed for second, missed getting de Aza, then sailed his throw to first into the Lancaster dugout as two runs scored.  Hector Sanchez grounded out, sending Castro to third, and the tying run scored when Brantley Bell greeted Garrett Granitz (1-0) with a sacrifice fly.

Trace Loehr opened the home half of the inning with a single to left center off Yaya Chentouf (0-1).  Melvin Mercedes walked, and Coca advanced both runners with a bunt.  Long Island opted to walk Andretty Cordero intentionally, bringing up Sandoval.  He hit a grounder to Castro, who fired home to Sanchez for a force, and the throw went back to first for the “double play.”  As Long Island’s defense cleared the field, the Barnstormers got the umpires to confer.  After a lengthy discussion, catcher’s interference was ruled, giving Lancaster the go-ahead run.  Garcia drove home three more with a liner into the gap in right center for an 8-4 edge.

Andretty Cordero tacked on a run with a sacrifice fly.  Granitz took the game through the seventh, and Mike Adams pitched a scoreless eighth.  Alex Dickerson doubled home a run off Ofreidy Gomez with two outs in the ninth.  Gomez struck out de Aza for the final out.

Coca homered in the first inning.  Long Island tied the game in the top of the third, but the Barnstormers went ahead, 2-1, as Mercedes scored on a wild pitch.  Cordero and Garcia singled home a run each in the bottom of the fifth.

Lancaster will send Matt Swarmer (4-1) to the mound in Game Two on Wednesday evening against lefty Kyle Lobstein (5-5).  Fans may tune into FloBaseball, beginning at 6:25.

NOTES:  Lancaster is 28-16 all-time in playoff games, 3-3 against the Ducks…They are 5-3 in the first game of the division series and 9-3 in first games overall…The Barnstormers have won their last six playoff games…Garcia had four or more RBI in a game only once during the regular season…Mercedes, who led the league with a .444 OBP during the regular season, reached base four times on a double and three walks…He scored three times.