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Lancaster Ties Series at One Game Each

On a night that started with a bizarre delay and a four-run Southern Maryland first inning, the Lancaster Barnstormers got in the final blow.

Jake Hoover launched a game-winning homer in the bottom of the tenth inning to complete an unbelievable rally as the Barnstormers captured the second game of the North Division series, 8-7, over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs.

Hoover connected on a 1-2 pitch from Connor Law (0-1) as the Barnstormers completed off the improbable rally against one of the Atlantic League’s most highly touted bullpens.

It was an all-around crazy night at “The Clip,” even before the game started.

A uniform dispute caused a 14-minute delay as the Barnstormers were forced to change from black jerseys into white, in contrast with Atlantic League rules which necessitate that the visiting team is responsible for the change.

After the stoppage in play, the Blue Crabs reached Lancaster starter Brooks Hall for four consecutive base hits in the top of the first with David Harris singling up the middle to drive in the first run, and Joe DeLuca blasting a two-run triple to left center.  He scored the fourth run on a grounder to short.

Mitch Lambson stymied the Barnstormers through the first six innings and got out of his biggest jam in the sixth when Andretty Cordero grounded into a double play.

It appeared that the Blue Crabs would run away with the game in the top of the seventh.  Southern Maryland loaded the bases against Gray Fenter with no one out.  Zach Collier struck out, and David Harris grounded into a double play.  Fenter fist pumped leaving the field, infusing energy back into the Barnstormers and the Clipper Magazine Stadium crowd of 3.796.

Jacob Barfield whipped the crowd into a bigger frenzy with a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning.  Lancaster loaded the bases on walks from Patrick Baker, and the Blue Crabs brought on James Dykstra.  Melvin Mercedes ripped an 0-2 pitch down the first base line.  DeLuca made a diving stop behind the bag and outraced Mercedes with both diving to the base as the Crabs held the 4-2 lead.

Southern Maryland stretched the lead back to four on RBI singles by Ryan Haug and Jack Sundberg in the top of the eighth.  Barfield delivered a run with a two-out single through the left side, cutting the deficit back to three.   Again, Haug produced a four-run margin with a two-out single in the top of the ninth.

Endrys Briceno got the final out of the eighth on a deep fly out to center by Hoover and carried the 7-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth.  Anthony Peroni led off with a single to right, and Shawon Dunston, Jr. picked up a single to right as well.  Briceno struck out Melvin Mercedes for the first out, but Andretty Cordero was able to dunk a shallow fly into center that was ruled a trap by Collier as Peroni scored.  Ariel Sandoval followed with a three-run homer to tie the game.

The top of the tenth was not without adventure.  Sundberg led off with a walk from West Tunnell (1-0).  Michael Wielansky dropped a bunt down the third base line.  It was scooped up by Anderson Feliz who made a wide throw to second.  Collier bunted into a force play at third, bringing up Harris.  The Southern Maryland DH ripped a single into center.  Sandoval fired home to get Wielansky for the second out.  Collier rounded second and was caught in a rundown by Peroni to complete the double play.

Lancaster will head to Southern Maryland to resume the series on Friday evening at 6:35.  Nile Ball (11-5) will make the start for Lancaster against right-hander Alex Merithew (8-3).  Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube channel, starting at 6:30.

NOTES:  Lancaster had not won a game all season when it trailed entering the final inning…The Barnstormers had only six hits in the first 14 innings of the series and collected 10 in the final five innings on Wednesday…Chris Proctor started the game behind the plate and was 2-for-2 before being ejected from the dugout in the bottom of the sixth…Briceno had a 0.76 ERA during the regular season, only allowing four earned runs…That total was matched on Wednesday.