CHARLESTON, WV. – The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs seized the lead over the Charleston Dirty Birds on Friday night with a run in the first inning and never looked back. McKenzie Mills (W, 6-1) had his best performance of the year, pitching eight shutout innings while allowing only four hits and walking none.
Charleston sent Max Tannenbaum (L, 0-2) to the mound for game one of the series, and the Blue Crabs scored in the first inning. Michael Wielansky reached on a walk with one out, before stealing second and advancing to third on a throwing error from the catcher, Alfredo Gonzalez. The next batter, Jared Walker, hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Wielansky to give the Blue Crabs a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Crabs added to the lead in the third. Jack Sundberg ripped a single up the middle to start the inning. Two batters later, with runners on first and second, David Harris lined a single into left, scoring Sundberg to put the Blue Crabs ahead 2-0. Two pitches later, Alex Crosby drove in another run when he flipped a double into left-center. Braxton Lee extended the lead to 4-0 with a sacrifice fly, scoring David Harris.
In the fourth inning, the Blue Crabs again added to their lead. Joe Testa, who replace Max Tannenbaum, walked Jack Sundberg and David Harris and hit Jared Walker to load the bases. Alex Crosby then knocked a base hit into left field, scoring Sundberg to give the Blue Crabs a 5-0 lead. Braxton Lee then drove in David Harris on a line drive to left field, giving Southern Maryland a 6-0 edge. With runners on the corners and two outs, Joe DeLuca lofted a base hit into left-center, scoring Alex Crosby to give Southern Maryland a 7-0 advantage.
The game remained 7-0 until the bottom of the ninth inning. After McKenzie Mills pitched eight outstanding innings, the Blue Crabs turned to Alex Merithew for the ninth. With a runner on second base and two outs, Diego Goris bounced a base hit into center field, putting the Dirty Birds on the board. Merithew then recorded the final out, securing Southern Maryland’s 7-1 victory.
The Blue Crabs bats responded well to the exhausting double-header with the Lexington Legends that went into the early hours of Friday morning. The bats compiled 11 hits, and Joe DeLuca went 4-4 in tonight’s game.
The Blue Crabs move to 33-11 with the win and control an 11.5-game lead over the Long Island Ducks. Southern Maryland has won seven of their last eight games. The Blue Crabs return to Appalachian Power Park tomorrow at 6:30 for game two of the series with the Dirty Birds.