GASTONIA, NC – Despite trailing for most of the game, the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs added four critical runs across the seventh and eighth innings, defeating the Gastonia Honey Hunters 8-6.
The Blue Crabs turned to Eddie Butler for game two of the series. Butler pitched five and one-third innings tonight, striking out three batters. But Gastonia also collected six runs on ten hits and three homers. From there, the bullpen was dominant again, allowing only one hit across the final three and two-thirds innings.
The Blue Crabs and Honey Hunters were scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning. After a leadoff triple from Luis Roman, Jake Skole launched a two-run homer over the wall in left field, putting the Honey Hunters ahead 2-0.
The Blue Crabs responded in the top of the fifth inning. Southern Maryland posted back-to-back singles with one out in the inning. Two batters later, with two outs and runners on second and third, Michael Baca struck a two-RBI double into the gap in left-center field, tying the game.
The Honey Hunters regained a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning on a home run from Jack Reinheimer. But in the top of the sixth inning, the Blue Crabs struck again. Zach Collier walked with one out. The next batter, David Harris, belted a two-run shot over the wall in left field, giving the Blue Crabs a 4-3 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Honey Hunters added another crooked number. Jake Skole led off the inning with his second home run of the game on a line drive over the wall in left field. Honey Hunters strung together four hits in the inning, adding two additional runs to take a 6-4 lead.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Blue Crabs added a run. With two outs, Michael Baca was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Luis Perez. Jack Sundberg then drove a double into the left-center field gap, scoring Baca and getting the Blue Crabs back within a run.
In the eighth, The Blue Crabs continued to hit. After a leadoff walk, Alex Crosby laced a single into center field. Braxton Lee tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring David Harris. After Raul Shah roped a single into center, the Blue Crabs had runners on the corners with one out. Austin Rei grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Crosby, and putting Southern Maryland ahead 7-6. Southern Maryland added to their lead when Michael Baca singled to left, scoring Shah and putting the Blue Crabs up 8-6.
Meanwhile, the bullpen was rolling. Dario Polanco (W, 2-0) did not allow a hit in the seventh inning, and the Blue Crabs turned to Briceno in the eighth. He struck out a pair and kept the Honey Hunters off the board. In the ninth inning, Mat Latos (SV, 10) entered the game. Latos opened the inning with a strikeout and picked up his tenth save of the season. The Blue Crabs move to 20-3 with the win and maintain a 9.5-game lead in the division. Southern Maryland goes for the sweep tomorrow against Gastonia.