While the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs continue to wait for the 2020 Atlantic League of Professional Baseball season to begin, Southern Maryland Newspapers will take a look back at some top games and moments over the franchise’s history.
In today’s edition, we look back at the franchise’s first regular season game as the Blue Crabs played the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, New Jersey on Friday, April 25, 2008.
“One down and 139 to go”
The phrase reverberated throughout the visitor’s locker room at Commerce Bank Ballpark (known as TD Bank Ballpark today) after the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs earned its first victory in franchise history with a 3-1 win over the Somerset Patriots.
“Yeah, it feels pretty good,” said Blue Crabs manager Butch Hobson to Southern Maryland Newspapers staff writer Stephen Demedis that April 25, 2008 evening. “We are an expansion club and that’s a good ballclub over there in Somerset, so this is a good win for us. I’m happy for the guys. They played well.”
Somerset scored first in the contest with an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning. Southern Maryland then had single runs in the third, fifth and seventh in picking up the win.
Blue Crabs starting pitcher Ryan Bicondoa went 5 2/3 innings and allowed one run on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
“It was a little rough and I didn’t feel as in sync as I normally do,” Bicondoa said to Demedis. “But I tried to get a lot of ground balls. We have a good defense and I tried to let them make the plays.”
The franchise’s first run came in the top of the third.
George Sandel doubled to left field for the first hit in franchise history. He was 2 for 3 with a walk in the contest. Center fielder Curtis Pride then doubled to score Sandel and tie the game at 1.
“We had a man in scoring position, so I was looking for the fastball,” said Pride to Demedis. Pride was 2 for 4 on the night. “I was just trying to take it up the middle, but I was able to hit it pretty deep to left.”
Southern Maryland took the lead for good when catcher Adam Shorsher led off the fifth with the franchise’s first home run, a solo shot to left off of Somerset starter Brandon Knight.
“I got a first-pitch breaking ball for a ball and I knew that he was coming with a fastball, and it was a good pitch to hit,” Shorsher said to Demedis. “It feels good to get that first hit, especially since it was a home run. I felt pretty good jogging around those bases.”
The Blue Crabs took a 3-1 lead in the seventh when first baseman Clinton Johnston led off with a triple to center and quickly scored on a Patrick Osborn RBI single. Osborn would be the team’s manager from 2011 to 2013.
Somerset threatened in the ninth with back-to-back singles to start the inning and both runners moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt. Then Southern Maryland closer Matt Hammons struck out the next two hitters to end the game and give the Blue Crabs their first-ever win in the franchise’s first-ever game.
Travis Wade, Derrick DePriest and Hammons combined to not allow a run in 3 1/3 innings of relief of Bicondoa.
“I knew that the bullpen was going to shut them down, and once we got a few runs, everything was good after that,” Bicondoa said to Demedis.
The Blue Crabs would drop the final two games of the weekend series with Somerset, 7-0 and 7-5, to account for the franchise’s first loss and first series loss. Eric Crozier hit two home runs and Johnston had a two-run blast in the second of the two losses.