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New Britain Steals Series Opener, 5-4

The New Britain Bees put another dent in Lancaster’s fading first half hopes on Friday night, scoring the eventual winning run without a base hit as the visitors took the opener of a four-game weekend series, 5-4, Thursday evening at Clipper Magazine Stadium.

Lancaster now stands 5 ½ games behind the York Revolution in the Freedom Division with 11 to play in the half. The ‘Stormers fell below .500 for the first time since May 29.

With one out in the top of the ninth, Scott Gracey walked New Britain center fielder Jon Jones. He stole both second and third with Michael Crouse at the plate. Crouse, too, worked out a walk. With a 1-2 count on Jon Griffin, Crouse took off for second. Griffin stroked a grounder to short, but the only play was at first as Jones streaked home with the decisive run.

Shawn Gilblair (3-0) retired the side in order to nail down the win.

New Britain broke out to a 3-0 lead over the first 4 ½ innings. Jonathan Roof doubled into the right field corner with two outs in the second, scoring Steve Carrillo from third for the game’s first run. James Skelton produced the second run with a ground out, and Carrillo cranked a double inside the third base bag as the Bees went up, 3-0.

Lancaster drew even on singles by Lance Zawadzki and K.C. Hobson and Justin Jackson’s three-run homer onto the left field hillside. It was the first home run for the pitcher/infielder since August 26, 2011.

A triple to right center by Crouse, a Barnstormer earlier this season, and Griffin’s single through the drawn-in infield gave the Bees a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh. The ‘Stormers drew even in the eighth on a single to the hole at shortstop by Caleb Gindl and Ahrens’ double into the right field corner.

The two clubs meet again on Friday night. Lancaster will send right-hander Bryan Evans (3-2) to the hill against right-hander Brian Dupra (4-0). Fireworks will follow. Fans may tune into Blue Ridge Cable 11 or the Barnstormers YouTube Channel, beginning at 7:00.

NOTES: Bell and Ahrens each extended hitting streaks to 10 games…Neither Terry Doyle nor Josh Outman, the two starters, issued a walk…Gracey has absorbed five losses in the last 16 days…He had not lost as a Barnstormer prior to that in 1 1/3 seasons.