The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs are running out of games to play in the 2019 Atlantic League baseball season. The team’s chances to make the playoffs are running out as well.
Southern Maryland had the perfect opportunity to make up some ground in the Freedom Division second-half standings by taking on the division-leading York Revolution in a three-game weekend series at PeoplesBank Park in Pennsylvania.
But after taking the opening game in which Mitch Lambson tossed a one-hitter in his debut with the team, the Blue Crabs fell in the final two contests while scoring just 1 run over the final 15 innings of the series.
Southern Maryland (54-73 overall, 28-29 Freedom Division second-half through Monday) had just 13 games remaining going into Tuesday’s contest versus New Britain at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, the first of a three-game series and first of 10 straight home games before the Blue Crabs finish the regular season next weekend in Sugar Land, Texas.
“We started out the series in York with a nice win, but then they broke the bats out on us on Saturday night,” Southern Maryland manager Stan Cliburn said. “I thought McGovern pitched well today. They got a few runs against him and we couldn’t respond. We had a number of hard-hit balls that just couldn’t find a hole today. We left the bases loaded three times.
“Now we have to finish up strong at home. We basically have to win 10 of 13 games to have a chance. Daryl [Thompson] will get to start three of those games, so maybe we can give him enough run support to win.”
The Blue Crabs lost the rubber game on Sunday afternoon, 5-1, as six York pitchers combined on a six-hitter.
Kent Blackstone led off the game with a walk, advanced to second on an error and to third on a balk, but would not score. That would be the first of many innings that Southern Maryland put runners on base but wasn’t able to bring them in. The Blue Crabs left 13 runners on base and were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position in the contest.
Southern Maryland scored its only run in the sixth as Travis Witherspoon hit a solo home run to left field, trimming York’s lead to 4-1. It was Witherspoon’s first homer as a Blue Crab.
The Revolution added an insurance run in the eighth as Henry Castillo ended an 11-pitch at-bat with an RBI single.
Kevin McGovern (1-1) took the loss in his second start with Southern Maryland after being picked up along with Lambson from the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association. McGovern allowed four runs on six hits over innings with four walks and four strikeouts.
Saturday, the Blue Crabs scored six runs over the first three innings but none the rest of the way in a 12-6 loss.
Southern Maryland raced out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Jon Griffin walked with two outs, then scored on a double down the left-field line by Tony Thomas. An error on the play allowed Thomas to round the bases and cross the plate as well. York answered by batting around in its half of the first and score five runs against Blue Crabs starter John Hayes. Carlos Franco’s three-run homer put the Revolution ahead to stay.
Southern Maryland came right back in the second on a Blackstone two-RBI single to trim the deficit to 5-4. But Welington Dotel’s two-run blast gave York its three-run lead back and Hayes (3-6), who allowed seven runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings and later took the loss, would be lifted two batters later.
The Blue Crabs weren’t done yet, however. Thomas tripled to lead off the third and ended the evening of York starter Julio Eusebio. Cory Vaughn came up next and quickly doubled home Thomas, then Josh McAdams added a two-out RBI single to bring the visitors to within 7-6.
York gave itself some breathing room with a three-run fourth and never looked back. Former Blue Crab Robert Carson (5-0) pitched a scoreless top of the fourth and was given the win.
Friday, Lambson threw seven no-hit innings as Southern Maryland edged York, 2-1.
The Revolution would score their only run of the game in the bottom of the first without a hit. Lambson walked leadoff batter Justin Trapp, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a McAdams error, then scored on a Telvin Nash sacrifice fly.
Joe Benson’s sacrifice fly in the top of the second tied the game at 1 and the Blue Crabs went ahead for good in the fifth as Rubi Silva doubled with one out and scored on a Garcia two-out RBI single. That would be enough run support for Lambson.
Lambson, the American Association Player of the Year, walked Dotel to lead off the fourth but retired the next three hitters in order. He had reached eight in a row retired when Dotel reached again, this time on an error by shortstop Garcia that kept the no-hitter going, but Lambson got Nash to fly out to center to end the frame.
Ryan Dent led off the York eighth with a walk and the next hitter, James Skelton, would end the no-hitter with a solid base hit to right. Lambson then struck out Castillo and got Trapp to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the 2-1 lead intact.
Mat Latos came on for the ninth and threw a scoreless inning while striking out two to end the game and pick up his 24th save. Lambson allowed just the one run, which was unearned, on one hit with three walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 111 pitches, 72 of which were for strikes.
Staff writer Ted Black contributed to this report.