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by Jake McDonnell

Barnstormers Prevail over Bridgeport, 4-3

Clipper Magazine Stadium plays over 370 feet to left field. Josh Whitaker needed nearly every foot to haul in a drive off the bat of pinch hitter Luis Nunez in the top of the ninth, preserving a 4-3 victory for the Lancaster Barnstormers over the Bridgeport Bluefish Monday evening.

With the win, Lancaster is now a game over .500 with six games left in the first half (and a make-up game against Southern Maryland in August).

Brand new father Cory Burns came on to try to notch his 12th save in his first appearance in eight days. Josh Vitters reached first on a four-pitch lead-off walk to start the inning. Vitters advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gil that was perfectly placed down the first-base line. Angelys Nina followed by grounding out to third for the second out of the inning. Adron Chambers grounded a single over second base, but shortstop Kevin Ahrens made a diving stop to prevent Vitters from carrying home the tying run. Nunez was summoned off the bench by Bluefish skipper Luis Rodriguez to bat for Anthony Giansanti. With Vitters 90 feet from home plate, and Chambers carrying the lead run at first, Nunez took a 1-2 offering to deep left field, but Whitaker made the over-the-shoulder grab for the final out of the ballgame, protecting the 4-3 win.

Lancaster picked up four runs in the bottom of the third inning, and Bridgeport scored three runs in the top of the fourth inning.

Charlie Cutler got things started for Lancaster in the third inning with a single to right off Jimmy Patterson (1-2). Blake Gailen followed the act with a single up the middle. Justin Jackson then lashed a double to right field that plated Cutler and got Gailen to third with no outs. After Kevin Ahrens and Caleb Gindl were retired without driving home a run, Whitaker came through with a two-run double to the gap in left center. Josh Bell finished off the four-run rally with another double on a slicing fly ball into the right field corner that got Whitaker home.

Outside of that inning, the Barnstormers managed only two hits on the night.

Bridgeport answered the Barnstormers’ big inning with a three-run sequence of their own. Leading off, Endy Chavez reached first on an error by ‘Stormers first-baseman K.C. Hobson. Luis Rodriguez would then double inside the bag at first, and the Bluefish had runners on second and third with no outs. Jonathan Galvez was credited with Bridgeport’s first RBI on a single flared into right center that sent Chavez home. Vitters drove in the second run with a liner over Bell’s head at third. Rodriguez scored, and Galvez went to third, but Whitaker came up big, cutting down Vitters, who overslid the bag at second. The Bluefish got their last run of the inning on a Jose Gil ground-out that scored Galvez.

The two teams dueled the rest of the game in five combined scoreless innings.

Lancaster starter Mike Lee (3-2) battled and finished with a six-inning effort. The right-hander yielded eight hits, but no walks, and struck out four.

The Barnstormers bullpen also had a strong showing on Monday night. Kevin Munson pitched the seventh, allowing a walk and picking up a strikeout. Greg Smith got the first two outs of the eighth inning in his second relief appearance since coming to Lancaster. Pete Andrelczyk, pitching in his second consecutive game, got final out of the eighth inning, striking out Galvez with Luis Hernandez on second base.

On Tuesday, the Bluefish and Barnstormers will face off in game two of this four-game series. First pitch is at 7:00 pm at Clipper Magazine Stadium. The pitching match-up will be Bridgeport’s D.J. Mitchell (2-1, 3.24 ERA) vs Lancaster’s Terry Doyle (2-3. 4.12 ERA). Fans may tune into Blue Ridge Cable 11 or the Barnstormers YouTube Channel.

NOTES: Bell extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and Whitaker stretched his to nine…Lee’s effort was his first quality start…Munson has recorded eight strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings on the homestand…Jackson has five RBI on the homestand…Lance Zawadzki, who hit grand slams in each of the previous two games, was a late scratch due to tightness in his side.