Nate Reed and Steve Johnson gave the New Britain Bees dual headaches on Wednesday, leading the Lancaster Barnstormers to a doubleheader sweep, 4-2 and 2-0, at New Britain Stadium.
With the sweep, the Barnstormers have won seven consecutive road games and 11 out of 13 overall in taking sole possession of first place in the Freedom Division.
Reed (3-0) fired five shutout innings in the opener. The left-hander yielded three hits while walking one and striking out six. Johnson (2-1) posted almost identical numbers with one more inning and one additional strikeout.
Behind Reed, the Barnstormers picked up a first inning run for the early lead. Darian Sandford singled and was forced at second by Tyler Bortnick. Blake Gailen walked, and Joey Terdoslavich got the run home with a single into right field.
Lancaster tacked on another run in the third as Sandford bunted for a base hit off Rainy Lara (0-2) and raced to second on Lara’s bad throw. Bortnick flied to center, sending Sandford to third. Gailen picked up the RBI with a single to center for the two-run lead.
Trayvon Robinson slugged his first home run of the season with Gailen aboard in the sixth inning to provide much needed insurance runs.
Scott Shuman allowed a two-out double to Reid Brignac in a scoreless sixth, but the Bees were able to mount a huge threat in the seventh.
Jonathan Galvez and Nate Irving greeted Jared Lakind with singles. Lakind struck out Ozney Guillen for the first out, but pinch hitter Manny Ramirez, Jr. rolled a single through the left side to drive home a run. Lakind was left in the game to face Darren Ford and induced what appeared to be a possible game-ending double play ground ball. The ball took a wicked hop over Bortnick at third for the fourth single of the inning as the Bees sliced the lead to 4-2.
Matt Reynolds entered and got the final two outs for his fourth save in four tries.
In the nightcap, the offense was solely created by the double play combo of Vladimir Frias and Carlos Garcia. In the third, Frias sliced a double inside the first base bag leading off the inning against Andy Van Hekken (0-3). Garcia dropped a bunt down toward third. It was fielded by a charging Deibinson Romero who made a wild throw, allowing Frias to race around with the game’s first run.
The duo also combined to set up the second run in the seventh. Frias led off with a walk, and Garcia, who was 3-for-3, singled him to third. Matt Hibbert’s grounder toward the middle was handled by Ozney Guillen, but Guillen made a bad shovel toss to Reid Brignac covering second. Lancaster was unable to take advantage of the error to score any additional runs after Frias came home on the would-be force out.
Again, New Britain got the tying runs into scoring position in the bottom of the seventh. With Reynolds and Shuman having been used in the opener, manager Ross Peeples went to matchups to nail down the second game win. Submarine throwing right-hander Garrett Granitz got the first out as Conor Bierfeldt flied to right. John Anderson was summoned to face left-handed Jamar Walton, but Bees manager Wally Backman countered with Manny Ramirez, Jr., who struck out. Anderson walked Jonathan Galvez. Guillen followed with a double to right center. James Skelton took two strikes then flied to shallow center to end the threat with Anderson notching his first save.
The Barnstormers and Bees conclude the series on Thursday evening. Tommy Shirley (2-0) will take the mound for Lancaster against New Britain right-hander Mark Hamburger (1-1). Fans may tune into the Barnstormers YouTube channel, beginning at 6:15.