First of all, I apologize for miscalculating yesterday, the BlueClaws had already clinched the first half title before ever taking the field yesterday. So, with the playoff spot in the bag for September, Lakewood returned to New Jersey to face the Captains last night.
Jon Velasquez (9-2) continued his impressive season for the BlueClaws, tossing 6 innings, and allowing just 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks, working out a couple of serious jams, and leaving the game in a 1-1 tie. Santo "Lights out" Hernandez came in for 3 more scoreless frames. I know I must sound like a broken record, but this guy has really impressed me. Santo has given up just 3 earned runs in his last 10 appearances, covering 24.1 innings of work. Another good sign for Lakewood was Robert Roth, who posted a scoreless 10th inning and picked up the win when the Claws won it in the bottom half. Roth has been struggling with his control since returning from the DL, but looked more comfortable and threw good pitches Friday night. Welcome back, Rob!!
Offensively, Steve Susdorf (.348) had 2 hits, and a walk to start the winning rally, and Jim Murphy (.296) also had 2 more knocks. Alan Schoenberger picked up his first hit for Lakewood, a double to help build a run in the 5th inning, and played a solid game at shortstop. The winning rally began with a Susdorf walk. Anthony Gose came in to run for Steve and pitcher Annillins Martinez seemed to lose his focus. Worrying about Gose at first, Martinez walked Jim Murphy, pushing the winning run to second. After a perfect sac bunt by Jeremy Hamilton, the Captains intentionally walked Moose Mattair, and then the first pitch to Zack Collier hit the BlueClaws leftfielder and the game was over. That is what I call taking one for the team.
Lakewood is scheduled for a day/night doubleheader today, weather permitting. Tyler Cloyd (7-3) and Trevor May (0-0) are the slated starters.
Last night in State College, Pennsylvania, the Williamsport Crosscutters began their season with a 15-2 trouncing of the Spikes! The Cutters got 19 hits, and Leandro Castro, who started the season here with the 'Claws, was 5 for 6 with a home run, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. T.J. Warren added a single, a double, and a triple, scored 3 times and drove home 4. Catcher Jean Rodriguez, from the Bronx, also had 3 hits and drove in 2 runs, and first baseman Francisco Murillo added 2 doubles and 3 RBI for Williamsport. 22-year old Siulman Lebron went 5.2 innings to record the victory, with Eric Massingham, Justin Long and Sean Grieve all pitching shut out relief.
The 2 teams will move over to Williamsport tonight for the Crosscutter's home opener.