'Birds Rally Falls Short at Lakewood
LAKEWOOD, NJ - The Delmarva Shorebirds battled back but ran out of time to tie, falling to the Lakewood BlueClaws 5-4 on Monday night at FirstEnergy Park.
Jhordany Mezquita (4-7) turned in one of his best starts of the year for the BlueClaws (27-34, 56-75), tossing five scoreless two-hit innings with no walks and four strikeouts. Dallas Litscher (2-1) took his first loss for the Shorebirds (38-24, 86-45), giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits in five innings, walking three and fanning seven. Mark Potter notched his ninth save, getting the final four outs and stranding the tying run on base.
The BlueClaws got to Litscher initially in the second. Cole Stobbe beat out a leadoff infield hit, then two batters later Carlos De La Cruz smashed a two-run homer to left, making it 2-0 Lakewood.
Shoddy Delmarva glove work in the bottom of the third allowed the BlueClaws to pull further ahead. With two out and nobody on, Malvin Matos hit a tough grounder to third that Jean Carlos Encarnacion airmailed to the bag, putting Matos at second on a single-and-error. Matos then broke for third and stole the bag, and Encarnacion missed the throw to get him, allowing it to sail into left field as Matos scored on a second error. Luis Garcia then drew a walk, then Stobbe singled and Abrahan Gutierrez walked to load the bases. De La Cruz came up next and hit a tough grounder toward the mound. Litscher rushed the throw and saw it sail past the bag, and two more BlueClaws runs scored to get it to 5-0.
The Shorebirds got one back in the top of the sixh. Nick Horvath led off with a single, then Alexis Torres reached on a flyball to right that Stobbe dropped. A wild pitch saw both men advance, and Adley Rutschman hit into an RBI groundout at second to make it 5-1 Lakewood.
Adam Hall singled with one out in the eighth, then Rutschman pounded a double that one-hopped to the wall in right, moving Hall to third. Johnny Rizer followed with a gap-shooting double to left center, scoring both Hall and Rutschman to cut the Shorebird deficit to 5-3.
Delmarva kept the foot on the gas in the ninth. Ryne Ogren slashed a one-out double, then two batters later Torres looped one into no-man's land in right for a single, bringing Ogren home and making it a one-run game at 5-4. Potter settled down from there, though, and struck out Hall on a high fastball to put it to bed.
Ogren finished 3-for-4 with a double and run for the Shorebirds, while Rizer picked up a pair of RBIs with his eighth-inning double. Rutschman's two-sacker counted for his first extra-base hit in a Delmarva uniform; he finished 1-for-4 with a double, run, and RBI.
De La Cruz paced the BlueClaw attack, going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Stobbe went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs, and Matos finished 2-for-4 with a run and stolen base.
Juan Echevarria pitched a scoreless sixth out of the bullpen for Delmarva, and Adam Stauffer finished the night with two scoreless innings and four strikeouts. Shorebirds pitching broke the South Atlantic League record for strikeouts in a season; Stauffer's punchout of Stobbe in the seventh was Delmarva's 1,306th of the year, surpassing the previous record set by Lakewood in 2018.
The Shorebirds look to bounce back against the BlueClaws on Tuesday night. RHP Gray Fenter (7-2, 1.91) makes likely his final start of the regular season for Delmarva against Lakewood's Victor Santos (5-9, 3.81). First pitch is 7:05 p.m., and pregame coverage on Fox Sports 960 AM and the MiLB First Pitch App begins at 6:50 with Will DeBoer and Sam Jellinek on the call.
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