Newly Acquired Lefty Defeats Long Island in Nightcap
The Lancaster Barnstormers needed a lefty starter. Kelvin De La Cruz needed a change of venue.
On Saturday evening, it looked like a perfect match.
De La Cruz pitched six innings of two-hit baseball, guiding the ‘Stormers to a 4-1 victory and a sweep of a day-night doubleheader from the Long Island Ducks.
Lancaster won earlier, 3-2, in 10 innings on a Josh Bell opposite field homer (see earlier story). With the sweep, the Barnstormers pulled to within 2 ½ games of the division leading York Revolution, who lost, 7-2, to Bridgeport.
De La Cruz (4-6) yielded an infield single to Cody Puckett and a long double to Mike Dowd in the second then retired 11 consecutive Long Island batters before walking Anthony Vega to start the sixth. The run scored when Mike Blanke’s grounder to third enabled Puckett to cross in the second. Five Ducks fanned against the southpaw starter.
Lancaster took a 1-0 lead off Darin Downs (4-4) in the first as Kevin Ahrens singled to right, stole second and came home on Bell’s single into right center. Sean Halton opened the second with a double inside the third base bag, but the Barnstormers did not produce another baserunner, save for an error, until the sixth.
Caleb Gindl opened the sixth with a ground rule double over Delta Cleary’s head in center. Ahrens was hit by a pitch, and both runners moved ahead on a one-out wild pitch. Again, Bell delivered, grounding a single through the drawn-in infield to score Gindl. Ahrens was brought home on Halton’s sacrifice fly to right for a 3-1 edge.
Two singles, a bunt, and Downs’ second wild pitch of the night gave the Barnstormers their fourth run in the seventh inning.
Kevin Munson worked a three-batter seventh, and Josh Wall retired the first two in the eighth. Wall then walked Vega and hit Fehlandt Lentini. Ryan Dennick came on in relief and retired Cleary on the second splendid grab of a foul pop up by first baseman K.C. Hobson in the doubleheader.
Dennick finished the night, using a double play in the ninth, to earn his first save.
The series concludes on Sunday afternoon at 1:35. Lancaster will send Bryan Evans (3-2) to the hill against right-hander Bruce Kern (0-1). Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel beginning at 1:15.
NOTES: The doubleheader sweep was the first by the Barnstormers this season…Ahrens and Lance Zawadzki have hit safely in six straight while Bell has hits in five consecutive games…Barnstormers starters have yielded three runs on 10 hits in 18 innings in the series…Dennick picked up the first save of the season by a reliever other than Cory Burns…Long Island pitching has struck out 37 Lancaster batters in the series.