Coming home off of a road trip in which they went 2-3, the Barnstormers kicked off a seven-game home-stand with a 6-5 win over the Sugar Land Skeeters.
Over 4,800 fans came out to Clipper Magazine Stadium to kick off Memorial Day weekend, and witnessed a spectacular hour-long ceremony paying tribute to Veterans who have served the United States. The ceremony included a presenting of the colors, renditions of “God Bless America” and “Amazing Grace,” the Pledge of Allegiance, and much more.
Then it was time to play baseball. Terry Doyle took the ball for Lancaster looking to rebound from an 0-2 start in his first three starts. Roy Merritt started for Sugar Land, his third of 2016.
Each team was able to plate one run in the first inning. For Sugar Land, Shortstop Ricky Hague tripled on a hard-hit ball to center field that Logan Schafer could not get to in time. Center-fielder Rene Tosoni hit a sacrifice fly to score Hague, and the Skeeters had the early advantage.
Lancaster answered quickly in the bottom of the inning. After a strikeout from Schafer and a fly-out from Kevin Ahrens, Caleb Gindl homered for the third time this season to right field. Just like that, it was a new ballgame.
In the second inning, Josh Bell got to first on an error by Jeff Dominguez. Sean Halton got to second base on a ground rule double, advancing Bell to third. Mike McDade then singled, collecting an RBI when Bell touched home. Charlie Cutler then grounded out, advancing the runners, and Sean Halton scored on a Jeff Kobernus sacrifice fly. Entering the third inning, it was 3-1 Lancaster.
The Barnstormers continued to get to Merritt in the third inning, scoring three more unanswered runs. After singles by Ahrens and Josh Whitaker, Josh Bell doubled to score Ahrens and advance Whitaker to third. Sean Halton got his second extra base hit on the evening and collected two RBI on a triple that gave Lancaster a 6-1 lead after three innings.
After the third inning, Roy Merritt settled down and was able to make it through 5.2 innings. Sugar Land added one run in the fourth inning when Tosoni hit his second home run of the year; a bomb to right-center. In the sixth inning, the Skeeters started to rally off of Doyle. Hague and Tosoni singled, and Jeremy Barfield plated Hague on an RBI single. Kent Matthes doubled, scoring Tosoni, and Johan Limonta hit into a 4-3 that ended up scoring Barfield. Lancaster fans would be on the edge of their seats for the rest of the evening.
Doyle ended up going six innings, allowing five runs on six hits and six strikeouts. The effort was good enough for Doyle’s first win with the Lancaster Barnstormers. Cory Burns allowed a runner to get to third in the ninth inning, but got the outs he needed and recorded his sixth save on the season. Merritt took the loss, his first of the season.
Tomorrow, Sugar Land and Lancaster will tangle in game two of this four-game series. Lancaster’s Bryan Evans (2-2, 3.55 ERA) will make his sixth start of the season against Sugar Land’s Barrett Loux (0-1, 6.75 ERA). Game-time is 7:00 pm at Clipper Magazine Stadium.