Denis Phipps slugged a decisive three-run homer off Nate Reed in the bottom of the third inning on Monday evening, leading the Sugar Land Skeeters to a 5-2 victory over the Lancaster Barnstormers in the opener of a seven-game series at Constellation Field.
A bigger point of discussion came in the fifth inning when Lancaster shortstop Zach Shank was ruled out for attempting to steal first base on a pitch that eluded catcher Albert Cordero. Shank never left the home plate area and appeared to have one foot still on his side of the plate. Sugar Land manager Pete Incaviglia prompted a discussion about the play, and Shank was ruled out, leaving a runner in scoring position. Barnstormers’ manager Ross Peeples immediately placed the game under protest.
Andrew Aplin, who had three hits in the game, doubled home Joe Terdoslavich in the top of the first to stake Lancaster to a 1-0 lead off Chase De Jong (2-0).
Sugar Land responded in the second against Reed (0-2). Denis Phipps drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a perfectly placed hit-and-run single to right by Juan Silverio. Cordero also walked to fill the bases, and Blair Beck drilled a two-run single into center.
Reed got the side in order after the Beck single but fell into trouble again in the third. The left-hander was greeted by a single from Anthony Giansanti. Jason Martinson walked, and Phipps unloaded on a 2-0 pitch for his 18th homer of the season.
Aplin picked up his second RBI of the night on a single lined into left center with one out in the sixth. The Barnstormers got the tying run to the plate twice after that but could not produce. Lancaster finished the evening with 10 hits.
Nick Rumbelow worked around a two-out single to Shank in the ninth for his second save.
The Barnstormers take on Sugar Land again on Tuesday evening. Jonathan Albaladejo (2-6) gets the start for Lancaster against right-hander Dallas Beeler (6-4). Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 6:45 CDT (7:45 EDT).
NOTES: Aplin went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to ten games…He is 17-for-40 in the streak…Terdoslavich was 2-for-4 and is now batting .468 (22-for-47) in his last 12 games…Darian Sandford was caught stealing on a pitch out in the third inning, the first time he has been caught in 16 tries since the new pickoff rules were implemented in the Atlantic League.