LAKEWOOD – Wednesday afternoon the BlueClaws blew a five-run lead, but came back in the ninth for a wild 11-10 win.
Leandro Castro hit a chopper to second base to score Jiwan James with one out in the ninth to complete an impressive Lakewood comeback.
At one point Wednesday the BlueClaws (26-21) appeared to be in good shape to cruise to an easy win over Hagerstown (26-21).
Lakewood entered the sixth trailing 3-2, but Stephen Batts led off with a double and the Claws tied the game on an Adam Buschini single. A Kyle Lafrenz single and Domingo Santana walk later, the bases were loaded with no outs for Jiwan James.
The BlueClaws center-fielder responded with a two-run base hit that hugged the bag at first to give the Claws a 5-3 lead. They weren’t finished. Alan Schoenberger hit a sac fly for the fourth run of the inning, and Jonathan Singleton and Jeremy Barnes hit RBI doubles to give Lakewood a seemingly insurmountable 8-3 lead.
However after a scoreless seventh the Suns mounted a big rally to take back the lead, capped off by a Steven Souza three-run homer that barely cleared the wall in left to put Hagerstown up 9-8. Two errors by the BlueClaws contributed directly to the big inning.
The Suns added an insurance run in the ninth, and were three outs away from a dramatic come-from-behind victory.
But as they have all season the BlueClaws battled with their backs against the wall. Adam Buschini drew a lead-off walk, setting up an epic at-bat by backup catcher Kyle Lafrenz.
Lafrenz fouled off several two strike pitches from Suns reliever Wanel Vasquez (3-2) before smashing a ball down the first base line that was inches away from being a double. Lafrenz then fouled off another pitch, before crushing a double to deep left to score Buschini and make it a one-run game.
Hewitt came in to run for the catcher, and Domingo Santana moved him to third with a ground out to second. James was hit by a pitch to put the winning run on base, but Alan Schoenberger grounded into what could have been a game-ending double play.
Fortunately for Lakewood, Suns second baseman Jeff Kobernus booted the ball into center allowing the tying run to score and moving the James to third.
That’s when Castro grounded to second to score James and cap off a fantastic walk-off win.
Josh Zeid (3-2) allowed two runs in 1.1 innings and blew his fourth save, but also picked up his third win.
Neither starting pitcher figured into the decision, nor lasted very long. Paul Demny and Julio Rodriguez were chased after both allowed two runs in 3.2 innings apiece. Rodriguez made his first start as a BlueClaw in lieu of the injured Jonathan Pettibone.
Every BlueClaws batter reached base at least once, and Lakewood went 7-for-19 with runners in scoring position in an impressive 15-hit performance.
Thursday night the Claws will look to take three of four from Hagerstown and move into sole possession of second in the SAL North. Jarred Cosart (5-1, 3.12) takes the hill for Lakewood against Dan Rosenbaum (1-1, 1.53) in a duel between two of the best lefties in the league.
First pitch is at 6:35 pm.
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