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Bullpen Holds as Stormers Win 11th Straight

An 8-1 fifth inning lead nearly turned into a nightmare for the Lancaster Stormers Friday evening at GoMart Ballpark.

Instead, James Hoyt, Justin Kelly and Kyle Johnson combined to throw four scoreless innings down the stretch as the Stormers won their 11th straight game, 9-6.

Lancaster’s streak is now just one shy of the franchise record set by the 2018 club during May of that year.

The evening began in grand fashion as Shawon Dunston, Jr. and Cristian Santana launched home runs in the first inning off David Lebron (1-3).  Joseph Carpenter added an RBI single in the first inning then cleared the bases with a double in the second for a 6-1 cushion.  Santana chimed in with a second homer in the fourth inning, and Trace Loehr singled with the bases loaded in the fifth for an 8-1 edge.  Following the Loehr single, the Stormers were retired in order with the loaded bases, and the momentum of the contest reversed completely.

Nile Ball, who survived three first inning walks with just one run scoring, carried the 8-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth.  He walked Gabriel Cancel to start the inning.  One out later, Keon Barnum walked.  Tillman Pugh launched a three-run homer to left to cut the lead to 8-4.  Ball picked up the second out on a comebacker, but Rusber Estrada kept the inning alive with a single to right center on an 0-2 delivery.  Ball left after Jonathan Soto doubled off the fence in left center.

Ted Stuka took over and yielded a two-run single on a soft liner to center to cut the lead to 8-6.  Clint Frazier walked, bringing Cancel back around.  However, Stuka never had to face him as Jack Conley picked Frazier off first to abruptly end the inning.

Any future chance for the Dirty Birds to score was cut off by a pair of ground ball double plays.  Hoyt (1-3) got one in the eighth with two on and none out. Kelly got Cancel to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the eighth before Johnson retired the side in order for his second save.

Lancaster will send right-hander Noah Bremer (3-1) to the hill on Saturday evening against Charleston’s Casey Cobb (0-3).  Fans may tune into FloBaseball, starting at 6:30.

NOTES:  Santana has seven homers in six games…He has 21 RBI over that stretch…Carpenter extended his hitting streak to 14 games and had his first four-RBI game of the season…The Stormers reached double figures in hits for the 19th time in 39 games.