Jonathan Albaladejo came within three outs of a no-hitter in the opener, and Ryan Casteel launched a grand slam in the first inning of the nightcap as the Lancaster Barnstormers swept a doubleheader from the Road Warriors, 4-1 and 7-6, Sunday afternoon at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
The sweep pushes the current winning streak to ten, tying the longest in franchise history, and gives the Barnstormers a 1 ½ game lead over Sugar Land in the Freedom Division.
Albaladejo (3-1) faced 19 batters over the first six innings, with the only Road Warrior to reach base coming on a low throw from third baseman Tyler Bortnick with one out in the fifth. Anthony Ray spoiled the bid for perfection with a sinking liner to right field leading off the seventh inning. Blake Gailen’s desperate attempt to scoop the ball allowed it to roll to the wall for a triple. Gustavo Pierre plated the run with a ground out. Jorge Fernandez followed with a single to right before the Lancaster right-hander settled down to get the final two outs.
In the route-going performance, Alabaladejo walked none and struck out three.
Lancaster plated an unearned run off Raul Rivera (1-2) in the bottom of the third. Carlos Garcia singled to right, becoming Lancaster’s first runner of the day. Anderson De La Rosa beat out a slow grounder to third, and both runners advanced on Pierre’s wild throw. Garcia stayed in place on a slow grounder by Rico Noel, then was thrown out trying to score on a comebacker by Darian Sandford.
The Barnstormers then coaxed a mistake. Sandford broke for second, drawing a bad throw from catcher Chris Rivera. De La Rosa scampered home with the run.
Blake Gailen homered to start the fourth, and the Barnstormers stretched the lead to 3-0 on Garcia’s RBI double into the left field corner. Noel carried an unearned run home on a Bortnick grounder in the fifth to pad the lead.
Lancaster exploded in the first inning off Kelvin Villa (0-2) in the nightcap. They loaded the bases on two walks around a bloop hit by Gailen. Casteel then took Villa to deep right center, barely clearing the home run fence for his club leading fourth homer. The barrage continued with Keenyn Walker picking up a base on balls and stealing second. Garcia roped a double into the left field corner and scored himself when Pierre, playing shortstop in game two, made a wild throw on Rico Noel’s infield single to the hole.
The Road Warriors had the better of the rest of the day and would have caught the Barnstormers had not Bortnick singled home Noel with a two-out run in the fourth.
Lancaster committed three errors in a sloppy top of the second inning, and the Road Warriors capitalized on the opportunity with Chris Rivera singling home a run.
Brooks Hall (2-1) walked relief pitcher William Gabay with one out in the second and sent him to second on a wild pitch. Pierre drove in the run with a double to right center. Alfredo Silverio brought the Road Warriors a notch closer with an RBI single in the fourth.
Rivera and Silverio each picked up a second RBI for the game in the top of the sixth on consecutive, two-out RBI singles.
Lancaster closer Matt Reynolds was summoned for the seventh inning. Pinch hitter Osvaldo Martinez led off with a single to left. One out later, Jorge Fernandez walked to put the tying run on base. Geraldo Valentin added more pressure with an RBI single to left, but Reynolds settled down to notch the final two outs, recording his fifth save.
The Barnstormers will open a three-game series with York on Tuesday. Lefty Nate Reed (3-0) will make the start for Lancaster. Fans may tune into Blue Ridge Cable 11 or the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 7:00.