Four runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning on Wednesday night, as the Barnstormers surged past the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, 7-5, to wrap up the second half title in the Freedom Division.
Lancaster has won 37 of its last 53 games for the Atlantic League’s best second half record at 43-23. The win was also the 1,800th in the managerial career of Butch Hobson.
The win set up a rematch between the Barnstormers and Southern Maryland in the Freedom Division series. Game One of the best-of-five set will be held at Clipper Magazine Stadium on Wednesday, September 23.
With the Barnstormers trailing, 5-3, Kent Matthes picked up a leadoff walk off Justin Berg (3-3). Mike McDade hit a pop fly to short left against the shift. Third baseman Bryant Nelson got back into the neighborhood of the play, but, with his body twisted, was unable to make the catch.
Lance Zawadzki struck out, but Luke Hughes perpetuated the rally with a ground single into left. Kevin Rivers brought one home with a single into right. Anderson Feliz then put Lancaster over the top with a single off the glove of shortstop Stevenson, diving to his right, scoring pinch runner Yusuke Kajimoto and Hughes. The final run scored on a force play grounder by Juan Apodaca.
Marcus Walden yielded a two-out single by Zach Wilson in the top of the ninth before retiring Reggie Abercrombie on a short fly to right to send the Barnstormers into the post season.
For the second consecutive night, the Blue Crabs scored twice before the first out of the game was recorded as Casey Stevenson followed an infield single with a two-run homer over the right field tents.
Lancaster spent the entire night play catch up, exchanging run for run to the point where both teams homered in the seventh with Wilson connecting for Southern Maryland and Apodaca going deep for Lancaster.
Pete Andrelczyk (9-2) picked up the win, pitching a scoreless eighth inning.
Lancaster will host Long Island on Thursday in the opener of a four-game series that will conclude regular season play. Edwin Carl, recently acquired from Winnipeg of the American Association will make the start for the Barnstormers against left-hander Darrin Downs (4-5). Fans may tune into 1390-AM, WLAN; rumba1390.com or the I Heart Radio cell phone app, beginning at 6:45.
Tickets are on sale now at www.lancasterbarnstormers.com or by phone at 717-509-HITS!
NOTES: The Barnstormers head to the playoffs for the fifth time ever and the fourth time in five season under Hobson…Al Yevoli allowed a single to the first batter faced in a game for the first time as Fred Lewis bunted his way on in the seventh…Yevoli got a double play to keep his ERA perfect…Starter Nate Reed failed to pick up a win for the first time in his last six starts…Zach Collier lost a nine-game hitting streak but scored two runs.