NEWARK — One night after collecting no hits, the Newark Bears unleashed 19 hits, the final coming from catcher Manny Mejia, a two-out two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning, to give the Bears a 10-8 walk-off win over the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the series finale Thursday night at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium.
Mejia’s game-winning homer off Ryan Speier was his third of the game and plated his fifth RBI. It was also the Bears’ third walk-off win of the season. Newark’s backstop collected his seventh home run of the season and made a winner out of Greg Reinhard. Reinhard (3-3), the fourth pitcher used on the night by Manager Tim Raines, struck out three in his lone inning of work.
The Blue Crabs wasted no time in taking an early lead, scoring twice in the top of the first inning. With one out, Casey Benjamin walked and Travis Garcia followed with a two-run homer to left, putting Southern Maryland in front, 2-0. Newark came back to tie the game in the home second inning. Eric Munson belted a solo homer to right, his second in his first week as a Bear. After Gabe Suarez reached on an error, Pablo Ozuna drove him home with a single.
Southern Maryland edged ahead for the second time. On a long solo homer from Shaun Cumberland to deep right field in the top of the third inning, the Blue Crabs were up by a run. The Bears bounced back and took their first lead of the series in the bottom of the frame. Brian Barton singled to start the inning and Mejia drove a bomb deep and high over the netting in left field for a two-run homer to make it 4-3 Newark. The lead grew to four runs as the Bears broke the game open in the home fourth, scoring three times, collecting four straight doubles to chase Blue Crabs starter Craig Anderson. Randy Gress, Ozuna, Jones and Barton each recorded a RBI double and the Bears were up 7-3.
Southern Maryland added a run in the sixth on a wild pitch, but Mejia used a solo shot out to left in the bottom of the inning to push the Newark lead back to four runs. The ‘Crabs pulled within three runs on a RBI groundout by Garcia in the seventh and tied the game in the top of the eighth, scoring three unearned runs against Bears reliever Michael Nix. With two on and two outs, Justin Arminger reached on an error to plate a run followed by RBI singles by Cumberland and Casey Benjamin to tie the game at 8-8.
Spier (2-3) took the loss, firing just two thirds of an inning, surrendering two runs on two hits. He was one of six pitchers used by the Blue Crabs. Derek Blacksher pitched two innings of relief for Newark, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and surrendering just one run in the seventh. The Bears received three hits each from Mejia, Barton, Jones, Ozuna and Suarez.
The home stand rolls on as Newark welcomes cross-state rival Somerset in for a three-game weekend series. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. on Friday night, with the gates of the “Den” opening at 6:05 p.m. Friday is also “Bark in the Park” night as fans are encouraged to bring their dogs with them to the park to receive a ticket discount.
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