Lakewood Claws Their Way To Victory

The Lakewood BlueClaws had an unexpected layoff thanks to Mother Nature. When they returned to action, it took them a little while to find their rhythm, but it all worked out in the end.

Coming off four straight off days, the Lakewood BlueClaws needed seven innings to shake off the rust for a 6-5 come from behind victory over the Delmarva Shorebirds Wednesday night at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood. The BlueClaws returned home following an eight game road trip in which the final three games were postponed due to inclement weather. The four days off appeared to have a negative effect on the BlueClaws play early in Wednesday night's game. The BlueClaws played poorly for seven innings before rallying for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and plated the game winner in the eighth for the victory.

The Shorebirds took advantage of three BlueClaw errors in the first five innings of the game to take a 5-0 lead. BlueClaws starter Jarrod Freeman received little help from his defense as the Shorebirds put up four unearned runs in the fifth to lead 5-0. The Shorebirds did collect three hits in the inning highlighted by Brandon Snyder's RBI double to right field for the fifth run. Freeman was chased from the game in the fifth and the bullpen came through with 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Manager Steve Roadcap was unhappy with his teams effort early in the game, "I don't care what level you play at, you can't give a team extra outs". However, Roadcap was happy with the outcome, "We didn't quit, we battled and we won, but the early play was unacceptable".

The BlueClaws got on the board in the bottom of the fifth with a solo homerun from right fielder Gus Milner, his first of the year. Trailing 5-1 the BlueClaws rallied in the seventh for four runs off of the Delmarva bullpen to tie the game at five. Delmarva starter Pedro Beato pitched six solid innings holding the BlueClaws to one run on four hits with three strikeouts, before handing the ball over to the bullpen. The bullpen was unable to hold the lead as the BlueClaws tied the game on Adrian Cardenas's groundball to first that was misplayed by Brandon Snyder. The ball went under Snyder's glove and into right field to plate two runs for the BlueClaws. Prior to Cardenas' at bat BlueClaw left fielder Quintin Berry came through with a big two out RBI single into left field to extend the inning. The BlueClaws started the eighth with a bang, getting a leadoff single from Jay Miller and a double from Milner. That put runners at second and third with no outs , but Shorebird reliever Chad Thall retired the next two hitters without surrendering a run. It looked as though Thall would work out of the inning, but he uncorked a wild pitch allowing Gus Milner to score from third for the eventual winning run. Thall would take the loss for the Shorebirds and Garet Hill, who pitched a scoreless eighth, would get the win for the BlueClaws. Andrew Cruse retired the Shorebirds in order in the ninth for his third save of the season. The BlueClaws improved their record to 5-4 on the season.

Gus Milner went 2-for-4 on the night with a homer and a double. He scored two runs including the game winner and added an RBI on his homerun. Milner is now batting .400 on the year with 7 RBI. Milner credits his hot start in 2007 to hard work, "I've been working on my approach with hitting coach Kevin Jordan and Manager Steve Roadcap and taking that approach into the game and putting good swings on the ball". Milner's hard work is paying off early in the season as he continues to swing a hot bat. "Gus works as hard as anyone on the team", commented Roadcap on Milner's effort. Milner hit .261, with 3 homeruns and 39 RBI last season with the Batavia MuckDogs, the short season Class A team of the Phillies.

The BlueClaws returned home for a six-game homestand taking on the Delmarva Shorebirds and the Hagerstown Suns. The BlueClaws were 3-2 on their eight-game road trip with the final three games being cancelled with no makeup dates yet announced. The BlueClaws split a four-game series with the West Virginia Power and won the lone game of their four-game set with the Hickory Crawdads. Kyle Drabek, who will start Thursday night against Delmarva, went six strong innings against West Viriginia to pick up a win in his first start of the year with a 9-1 decision. Adrian Cardenas went 7-for-11 in the final three games of the road trip with three runs scored and four RBI. Jason Donald was 8-for-16 over the last four games of the road trip with five runs scored. Julian Williams extended his streak Wednesday night, reaching base in 53 straight regular season home games.


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