The Lancaster Barnstormers needed five more outs with their setup man and closer in store.
Instead, the Long Island Ducks reached both.
Hector Sanchez drilled a game-tying homer off Scott Shuman in the eighth, and Clint Freeman reached Cody Eppley in the ninth as the Ducks rallied for a 4-2 victory on Friday evening at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
It was the third straight loss for the Barnstormers.
Darian Sandford, making the start at second base, made a great catch on L.J. Mazzilli to start off the eighth inning with the Barnstormers up, 2-1. However, Sanchez connected off Shuman’s 2-1 offering, sending a line drive over the tents to tie the game on the first run allowed by the right-handed flamethrower since July 13.
The ninth inning was almost a repeat. First baseman Andrew Aplin made a leaping backhanded catch to snag a leadoff line drive by Ramon Cabrera, but Freeman, who only recently converted back from pitching to first base lined his first homer of the season with just enough elevation to clear the right field wall to break the 2-2 tie.
For the insurance run, D’Arby Myers reached on a throwing error by Sandford which pulled Aplin only slightly off the first base bag. Myers stole second and third, then came home when Parker Morin made a bad throw into left on the steal of third.
Caleb Gindl staked the Barnstormers to the 2-1 lead with his 14th homer of the season in the third inning that came on the heels of a Devon Torrence base hit to left.
Lancaster never got another baserunner. Starter Brian Matusz set down the final 10 batters he faced, four on strikes. Zack Weiss (3-1) fanned two of the six batters he got to earn the win. Pedro Beato, making his first relief appearance of the season, got the side in order in the ninth.
Connor Overton was impressive for the Barnstormers in his Atlantic League debut. The right-hander yielded only four hits and a run in six innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Nate Reed (1-2) will take the mound for Lancaster in the second game of the series on Saturday evening. He will square off against right-hander Joe Iorio (5-1). Fireworks will follow the game. Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, starting at 6:15.
NOTES: Andrew Aplin lost his 19-game hitting streak, falling one shy of the club record…He was on deck when the game ended…Joe Terdoslavich singled off Matusz in the first inning, batting left-handed against the lefty due to an injury…Long Island is 12-3 against Lancaster on the season.