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Barnstormers Rally for 4-3 Win to Stay in Race

The Lancaster Barnstormers continue to pull off last ditch surprises.

Darian Sandford’s two-out single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth capped off a Lancaster Barnstormers rally Thursday evening as the ‘Stormers edged the Long Island Ducks, 4-3, in the finale of a three-game series at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

The win kept the Barnstormers alive in the Freedom Division race.  Lancaster trails York by three games with three to go, a head-to-head series with the Revs at People’s Bank Park over the weekend.  Lancaster needs a sweep to advance to the playoffs against Southern Maryland.

Lancaster trailed, 3-1, into the bottom of the eighth following a brilliant seven-inning performance by Frontier League import Jake Fisher.  The Ducks switched to another southpaw, Patrick Crider, to start the eighth.  Crider was greeted by a Josh Bell double inside the bag at third.  Lance Zawadzki grounded a single up the middle to score Bell and cut the Long Island lead to 3-2.  After a failed bunt attempt by Sandford, Zawadzki stole second.  Trayvon Robinson’s grounder to short second Zawadzki to third, and the Barnstormers got the run home when Cole Garner grounded a ball past third baseman Giovanny Alfonzo’s reach, and Dan Lyons’ throw from shortstop bounced away from first baseman Angelo Songco.

The Lancaster ninth looked like it was headed nowhere as Amalio Diaz (5-6) retired the first two hitters quickly.  Steve Clevenger kept the inning alive with a single, and Josh Bell followed with a double inside the bag at first.  Zawadzki was walked intentionally to bring up Sandford, who had been 0-for-13 in the series.  Sandford fought off three two-strike pitches before lining his base hit into center to score Clevenger with the game winning run.

Long Island scored all three of its runs in the top of the first inning.  Alfonzo and Elmer Reyes greeted Rommie Lewis with singles, but the Lancaster lefty got the next two hitters out.  Ruben Gotay dunked a single into shallow center to score Reyes with the first run.  Both runners advanced when Sandford’s throw bounced off Lewis’ foot, and Songco singled into right to drive both runners home.

Clevenger brought Lancaster one closer with an RBI single in the home half of the second.

Lewis settled down to work 6 2/3 innings on 116 pitches.  He allowed eight hits and the three runs (two earned) while walking two and striking out five.

The Barnstormers head to York on Friday for a 6:30 start.  Joe Gardner takes the hill for Lancaster against fellow right-hander Jay Gause.  Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, starting at 6:15.

NOTES:  Sandford’s ninth inning game winner was his second in nine days…He is 5-for-9 on the year with the bases loaded…Bell has seven extra base hits in his last 10 games…Lewis has thrown quality starts in four of his last five outings…R.J. Hively dropped his ERA at home to 0.96 with a scoreless inning…Lancaster finished the season, 12-8 against Long Island…Lancaster is one win away from matching the total number of victories by the last playoff team, which went 75-65 in 2015.