GASTONIA, NC – In a back-and-forth game with four lead changes, the Blue Crabs secured their sixth consecutive win, 5-4, over the Gastonia Honey Hunters. Ray Ortega, who was acting as manager, picked up his first managerial win.
The Blue Crabs got on the board first in the top of the first inning. With one out, Ian Yetsko ripped a double on a line drive into the left-center field gap. Yetsko came around to score on a pair of wild pitches from Gastonia’s starter, John Anderson.
Gastonia tied the game in the bottom of the first inning when Joseph Rosa lifted a solo homer over the wall in left-center field. Gastonia scored again in the bottom of the third inning, when Jack Reinheimer knocked a base hit into center field, scoring Eric Jones to give the Honey Hunters a 2-1 lead.
The Blue Crabs reclaimed the lead in the sixth. After a leadoff double from Zach Collier, Alex Crosby bounced a single up the middle, scoring Collier and tying the game. Later in the inning, with one out and Crosby on third, Braxton Lee struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Stuart Levy, Gastonia’s catcher, threw out Lee at first base, while Alex Crosby sprinted to the plate to score the go-ahead run.
But Gastonia responded again. On the first pitch of the seventh inning, Reece Hampton launched a home run over the wall in left, tying the game at three. Dalton Geekie came in relief of Mitch Lambson, who allowed four runs in six innings of work. Geekie recorded a pair of strikeouts, but walked in a run, giving the Honey Hunters a 4-3 lead.
After a 1-2-3 eighth inning from Bradley Roney (W, 1-0), the Blue went into the top of the ninth inning trailing 4-3. On the first pitch of the inning, Raul Shah blasted an automatic double to right-center field. The next batter, Braxton Lee reached on an error by the third baseman, Rayder Ascanio, putting runners on the corners with one out.
After allowing the first two baserunners to reach, Gastonia replaced Sam Bordner (L, 3-2) with Jesus Balaguer (BS, 1). Austin Rei then roped a line drive into left field, tying the game 4-4. With one out, Austin Rei and Braxton Lee executed a double-steal, putting runners on second and third. Matt Hibbert then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Lee and giving the Blue Crabs a 5-4 lead.
The Blue Crabs held onto that lead as Mat Latos (SV, 9) retired the side in order, picking up two strikeouts along the way. The Blue Crabs have now won six straight games and have improved to 19-3 on the season. Southern Maryland maintains their 9.5-game lead in the division. The Blue Crabs go for their 20th win of the season tomorrow at 6:15 pm.