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Zawdzki’s Return Spoils ‘Stormers Opener

Huge Crowd Watches Sugar Land Down Lancaster, 5-4

Lance Zawadzki made his first game back in Lancaster since a July, 2016 trade to Sugar Land a night to remember.

The former Barnstomers shortstop homered twice and made a dazzling backhanded catch in the second inning to lead the visiting Skeeters to a 5-4 victory over the Barnstormers in front of 7,521 on Opening Night at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

Zawadzki connected off Bryan Evans (0-1) with one out in the first for a 1-0 lead.  His blast was followed by a Jeremy Barfield bunt single up the third base line.  With two outs, Joe Benson drew a walk, and Travis Scott lined a single off the wall in right to score Barfield for a 2-0 lead.

Lancaster countered immediately.  Darian Sandford led off with a walk against Brett Marshall and stole second.  Caleb Gindl produced the first run with a single to left center, then raced to third on K.C. Hobson’s sharp single into right.  Gindl scored on a sacrifice line drive to left field by Sean Halton, tying the game at 2-2.

Zawadzki’s second homer of the night, a drive down the right field line leading off the third inning, put the Skeeters in the lead for good.  Barfield followed it with a double and later scored on Benson’s single into left.  Scott sent Benson to third with a single into right, and Chris Nelson advanced the lead to 5-2 with a sacrifice fly to center.

Sugar Land picked up only a single and a pair of walks over the remainder of the evening.  Meanwhile, the Barnstormers loaded the bases in the sixth only to have Anderson De La Rosa line out to left to end the threat.  Two innings later, with runners at second and third and one out, Kevin Ahrens whistled a line drive at third baseman Chris Nelson that resulted in a double play.

Gindl belted a two-run homer off closer Felipe Paulino in the top of the ninth.  Hobson rode a liner out of the park foul down the right field before grounding to second base to close out the night.  Paulino was awarded his third save.

The two clubs meet again on Saturday.  Lancaster will send Rommie Lewis (0-1) to the hill against right-hander Zech Zinicola (0-1).  Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 6:15.

NOTES:  Hobson has hit safely in seven straight games…Halton has eight RBI in eight games…Sandford’s first inning steal was his fifth in the last four games…Blake Gailen doubled in the eighth for his 97th Barnstormers’ two-base hit, moving him to within two of Jutt Hileman’s franchise record…Lancaster’s bullpen struck out six in four shutout innings.