NEWARK – Travis Garcia lifted a two-run homer with two out in the top of the ninth inning, snapping a 3-3 tie and capping a five-run rally, leading the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs to a 5-3 victory over the Newark Bears Wednesday night at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium.
The Bears took a 3-0 lead into the ninth and handed the ball to closer Armando Benitez, but he could not seal the deal, surrendering all five runs in the ninth for his first loss of the season, falling to 1-1. Down three runs, Casey Benjamin brought the Blue Crabs to within 3-2 with a long two-run homer to right field, Benjamin’s 18th homer of the season. Patrick Osborn then drove in David Espinosa for the tying run, then Garcia lifted his 17th homer of the season for the final score. The rally made a winner out of reliever Steve Palazzolo (3-0), who pitched two innings of relief. Jim Ed Warden pitched the ninth to collect his Atlantic League-leading 28th save.
After being scoreless for most of the game, Carl Everett hit his 14th homer of the season, a shot that traveled an estimated 430 feet. Brian Barton then continued the rally with a double, followed by a walk to Eric Munson. Manny Mejia then laid down a perfect bunt for a single, loading the bases with no out.
James Cooper delivered the game’s second run with a fielder’s choice and pinch-hitter Kennard Jones drove in the final run with a single to left field, capping the rally.
The game featured a solid pitching duel between the two left-handed starting pitchers, namely Shane Youman for the Bears and Craig Anderson for the Blue Crabs. The two hurlers matched zeroes for the first five innings, with Youman consistently working his way out of trouble and Anderson limiting the Bears to just two singles.
The Blue Crabs loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth, collecting three straight singles against Youman, ending his night. Reliever Will Cunnane got the Bears out of trouble by striking out Jamar Hill and Richard Giannotti with the bases loaded, keeping the game scoreless. The Blue Crabs threatened again the seventh inning, when Benjamin singled and moved to second on a sacrifice from Espinosa. After Matt Craig was intentionally walked, Osborn grounded into a double play, ending that threat. Southern Maryland stranded a total of 11 runners over the first seven innings.
The series concludes between the Bears and Blue Crabs on Thursday night. Newark is .500 on Thursdays at Bears & Eagles Riverfront Stadium. Thursday will also be the last “Thirsty Thursday” of the regular season, presented by Budweiser and Pepsi.
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