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Stormers Take Series Opener, 8-4

When you hit a grand slam in the top of the first, you don’t expect to win the game in extra innings.

But that is exactly what the Lancaster Barnstormers did on Friday night, defeating the Staten Island FerryHawks, 8-4, in 10 frames, in the opener of a three-game series at SIUH Community Park in the New York City borough.

With the win, the Barnstormers climbed into a second place tie with Southern Maryland in the North Division, one-half game behind York.  Both of the other clubs lost series openers.

Melvin Mercedes, Andretty Cordero and Ariel Sandoval all singled in the top of the first, then Wilson Garcia hit his third homer in two nights, clearing the wall in right center for the quick 4-0 lead.  Joseph Carpenter followed with a double to right center.  Then, nothing.

Over the next eight innings, the Barnstormers managed just five more hits, three of them doubles but could not find a path to home plate.  The most frustrating of those innings was the fourth when Melvin Mercedes lined into a double play with runners at second and third, ending the threat.

Nile Ball escaped jams in the first two innings, but then the right-hander walked Angel Aguilar and Yoshi Tsutsugo to start the third.  Chris Brito followed with a three-run blast to right center to cut Lancaster’s lead to one.  Ball walked two more in the inning before getting Luis Castro to tap out in front of the plate to end the inning.

Ball retired the last seven batters he faced before turning the ball over to the bullpen.  Cody Stashak and Nick Duron fired a scoreless inning apiece, but the FerryHawks tied the game on consecutive doubles by Garrett Kueber and Bobby Sparling off Zach Warren in the eighth.

Mike Adams (3-2) wiggled out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth, and Lancaster took advantage of a sloppy tenth to pull away.

Trace Loehr bunted “ghost” runner Jack Conley to third.  Mercedes walked before Yeison Coca slapped a sharp grounder to Brito at first which was kicked for an error as Conley scored.  Cordero struck out looking for the second out.  Homer Bush, giving respect to Sandoval, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles on the night, walked the Lancaster left fielder to face the switch hitting Garcia.  The strategy was spoiled when Andrew Gross (1-1, 2-1) hit Garcia with a pitch to force home Mercedes.  Carpenter tacked on a two-run single, and Adams retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.

Lancaster will send Jeff Bain (2-1) to the mound on Saturday against lefty Ryan Hartman (2-5).  Fans may tune into FloBaseball, beginning at 6:25.

NOTES:  Sandoval has hit safely in seven straight…He had his 25th and 26th doubles of the year…Garcia’s grand slam was the first by a Barnstormer since Chris Proctor won a game at Gastonia on Memorial Day…Cordero has hit safely in 21 of 22 games…Carpenter had his third straight multi-RBI game…Lancaster’s pitching struck out 15 for the night.