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Crabs Nip Barnstormers, 2-1

Daryl Thompson once again frustrated the Lancaster Barnstormers on Tuesday night, pitching the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to a 2-1 win in the opener of the best-of-five Northern Division series.

Frustrated may be an understatement.  Seven different Barnstormers flied out to the warning track in the first seven innings as Lancaster managed only two hits off the right-handed ace, who shut out Lancaster over the Labor Day Weekend and also in the playoff opener in 2015.

Oscar De La Cruz (0-1) matched Thompson’s scoreless effort into the fifth inning when catcher Ryan Haug belted a two-out solo homer off the left field foul pole, staking the Blue Crabs to a 1-0 lead.

De La Cruz left with the bases loaded in the sixth, following a one-out triple by Michael Wielansky and a pair of walks.  Brandyn Sittinger got him out of the jam, retiring Santiago Chirino on a line drive to center for the final out.  Sittinger yielded a pair of singles in the seventh, but was again able to escape with a strikeout and a foul fly ball.

In the eighth, it was Cam Booser’s turn to pitch out of trouble. The lefty allowed a one-out double to left by David Harris before striking out Joe DeLuca and retiring Chirino on a slow grounder to third.

Southern Maryland finally picked up an insurance run in the top of the ninth.  With one out, Haug singled to left off West Tunnell.  Michael Baca followed, and with Haug running, the shortstop delivered a single to center, sending Haug to third.  Baca headed to second as the throw from Ariel Sandoval skipped away from Trace Loehr.  Jack Sundberg got the run home with a sacrifice fly to left.

It turned out the run was needed.  Shawon Dunston, Jr. picked up a one-out walk, the only one allowed by Thompson (1-0) in his 8 2/3 innings of work.  With two gone, ‘Stormers MVP Andretty Cordero slugged a double to right center that barely missed tying the game, catching the far edge of the 16’ high fence before it drops to eight feet.

Instead, Cordero had to settle for an RBI double, forcing Blue Crabs manager Stan Cliburn to use his closer Endrys Briceno to face Trayvon Robinson.  Cordero stole third on the at bat, during which Haug also saved a pitch in the dirt.  Briceno caught Robinson looking on a 3-2 fastball to end the night.

Brooks Hall (6-1) will face Mitch Lambson (8-9) in the second game of the series, Wednesday at 6:30.  Tickets remain on sale.  Fans may also tune into the Barnstormers YouTube channel, starting at 6:25.

NOTES:  This marks Lancaster’s seventh trip to the playoffs…The Barnstormers have not made it to the finals since 2014…Only Robinson and Anderson Feliz have been with the club in the playoffs previously among those on the active roster…Thompson shut the Barnstormers out in Game One in 2015.