BlueClaws Rally to Trounce the Suns
Mark Leiter Jr. retired 10 Hagerstown batters in a row
Leiter also had 13 groundouts in the game.
BlueClaws 10 – Suns 2
Coming back home hasn’t been the best thing for the Lakewood BlueClaws. After winning three out of four against the Delmarva Shorebirds this past weekend in Delmarva, the BlueClaws lost the first two games of their series with the Hagerstown Suns at FirstEnergy Park. On Wednesday night, though, the BlueClaws were able to get back on the winning track. The BlueClaws came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Hagerstown 10-2 and win the game in their three game series with the Washington Nationals Single-A affiliate. Early on, it looked as if the BlueClaws would be swept by Hagerstown.
In the top of the first inning, the Suns took an early lead off of an error by Lakewood’s shortstop JP Crawford, followed by an RBI single by designated hitter Carlos Lopez, to take a 2-0 lead. Hagerstown didn’t know that those would be the only two runs they would score all game. After a rough first inning, BlueClaws starting pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. got his act together and dominated the rest of the game. Leiter would go to pitch 7+ innings, giving up two unearned runs on five hits, and seven strikeouts. Leiter on his solid outing said, “Fortunately for us, I had great stuff tonight. I was able to keep their batters off balance a lot with my curveball, change-up, and splitter. I also got ahead in counts, as well, with my fastball and that allowed me to mix it up a lot and get outs.” At one point in the game, Leiter retired 10 straight Hagerstown batters in a row and also had 13 ground ball outs. “That’s how you’re gonna win games. As a team, we emphasize getting ground balls because it means you’re pitching down in the zone and you’re getting inside on guys, so when I see those stats, that means I did my job and let my defense make plays behind me, which they did all game,” Leiter said.
With Leiter keeping the game close, it allowed the BlueClaws offense to strike together some hits to get back in the game. The BlueClaws were able to lower the deficit to a one run game in the bottom of the fourth inning off of an RBI single by first baseman Zach Green.
Still down 2-1 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, the BlueClaws were able to push another run across off of a throwing error by Hagerstown starting pitcher Jeffry Rodriguez, who tried to pick off Crawford on first. Crawford, who moved to third on the throwing error, would then score on a wild pitch thrown by Rodriguez to give the BlueClaws the lead at 3-2.
With a 3-2 lead still going into the bottom of the eighth inning, the BlueClaws offense went on a hit parade, and got some much needed seven insurance runs. The first two runs of the inning came off of a two-run single by designated Andrew Knapp, who has six RBI’s since joining the BlueClaws last week. Knapp, on the two RBI hits and his performance overall, said, “It was good. Whenever you have runners in scoring position, you want to get at least one run in, so it feels good to get two runs in and give us much needed insurance runs.” Knapp, since joining the BlueClaws, has only been used as a DH so far this season for both Clearwater and now Lakewood. Knapp will be playing his first game as catcher tomorrow night for Lakewood. Knapp, on playing catcher for the first time this season said, “I’m really excited to get back out there. It’s been a long road from recovery, so I just can’t wait to get back on the field and work with some pitchers.” Knapp had Tommy John surgery last season.
After Knapp’s two run single, Green added the third run of Lakewood’s seven-run inning with his second RBI single of the game. “I got a lot of opportunities tonight to drive a runner in from third, so I was able capitalize on them and help the team win,” Green said about his night at the plate.
The last four runs that the BlueClaws scored in the eighth inning came off of a two-run double by left-fielder Samuel Hiciano, an RBI single by catcher Jose Mayorga and an RBI single by Crawford.
With the win, the BlueClaws improve to 26-39 on the season and avoid being swept by Hagerstown. The BlueClaws are also 5-3 in their last 8 games.
The BlueClaws will continue their home stand on Thursday night, starting a four game series with the Hickory Crawdads. This will be the BlueClaws’ last series before the South Atlantic League All-Star game next week.
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