While the Lancaster Barnstormers and New Britain Bees combined for four home runs on Thursday evening, the most exciting moment may have been created by the speed of Rico Noel.
Noel raced home all the way from second base on a rare two-run sacrifice fly in the top of the second inning as the Barnstormers topped the Bees, 8-4, for their eighth consecutive road win.
Overall, it was Lancaster’s seventh straight win. The club heads home in first place in the Freedom Division.
With Lancaster up, 1-0, New Britain starter Mark Hamburger (1-2) hit Vladimir Frias and Anderson De La Rosa with pitches. Noel followed with a double into the left field corner scoring one. Darian Sandford took Hamburger to deep right center field. With Jamar Walton still heading back to make the catch, Noel tagged at second. He never hesitated and easily beat the relay throw for a 4-0 lead.
The Bees reached Lancaster starter Tommy Shirley (3-0) for three solo home runs over the next two innings. Former Milwaukee Brewer Jason Rogers connected in his first Atlantic League at bat leading off the second. Deibinson Romero and Reid Brignac followed suit to start the third.
However, New Britain never quite caught up. Blake Gailen slugged his second homer of the season to open the third. Tyler Bortnick coaxed a wild pickoff throw from Sam Gervacio in the fifth, scoring from third. Noel and Bortnick tacked on RBI singles in the top of the sixth for an 8-3 cushion.
Lancaster’s bullpen struggled to throw strikes over the final four innings, walking six, including the first two batters twice. However, the Bees never delivered the big hit and ended the night having left 14 runners on the base.
The Barnstormers open a six-game homestand on Friday night with a visit from the Road Warriors. Joe Gardner (1-1). Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 6:45.