Oscar De La Cruz pitched like a man on a mission.
It was the same mission as the entire Lancaster clubhouse. End the series in three games.
De La Cruz (2-1) pitched a complete game four-hitter, at one point retiring 19 straight batters as the Lancaster Barnstormers took the Atlantic League pennant for the third time in club history, 6-1, over the High Point Rockers on a chilly, cloudy and occasionally drizzly Friday evening at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
Lancaster had previously won league titles in 2006 and 2014, also in three-game sweeps finished at home.
The right-hander survived a two-out test in the top of the first when Logan Morrison scorched a single into left center field, and Quincy Latimore grounded a base hit through the hole on the left side. He was able to strike out DH Zander Wiel for the final out and the second of his eight strikeouts on the night.
Tyler Ladendorf drove a one-out solo homer over the boards in left to cut a Lancaster lead to 3-1. High Point managed only one baserunner for the remainder of the night as Logan Moore singled to left with two outs in the eighth.
De La Cruz went the entire night without a walk and struck out eight. He threw 106 pitches for the ballgame. His efforts were honored with the series MVP award, presented by league president Rick White following the game.
Lancaster received help from the High Point defense early in the game. With Shawon Dunston, Jr. at third and two outs in the bottom of the first, Michael Russell slipped on a ground ball by Ariel Sandoval then made a low throw to first, giving the Barnstormers their first run off Craig Stem (1-1). Trayvon Robinson followed with a double into the left field corner to drive home Sandoval. Robinson, in turn, scored on a base hit to left by Jacob Barfield.
Following the Ladendorf home run, the Barnstormers struck again. Jake Hoover reached on an error by Ladendorf and moved to second on Trace Loehr’s ground out to first. Dunston rapped a single into right, and Melvin Mercedes pushed a run across with a force play grounder to second.
Stem lasted 5 1/3, only allowing two earned runs. The Barnstormers were able to salt the game away in the sixth when Trayvon Robinson slammed a homer to right. Barfield followed with a bloop single and moved to second when Jake Hoover singled up the middle. Trace Loehr greeted lefty Gabriel Castellanos with an RBI single to center for the 6-1 lead.
NOTES: There were similarities to Lancaster’s two previous title clinchers – in 2006, Denny Harriger went the distance for the win…In 2014, the Barnstormers also celebrated on the field in the rain…Barfield led everyone in the playoffs with 12 RBI despite playing in only six games…He had at least one in each of the six games he started…Hoover and regular season All-Star Andretty Cordero each had 11 hits for the ‘Stormers, most on the club.ReplyReply allForward