by Matthew Taylor
Maybe you can't be all things to all people, but Brooks Robinson's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs sure are trying. A Roar from 34 trip to Regency Furniture Stadium on Saturday night for the team's contest with the York Revolution had something for ...
... Bird fans (former Orioles Tippy Martinez, Chris Hoiles, Sam Snider, & Andy Etchebarren) and BoSox fans (Butch Hobson, Shea Hillebrand, Curtis Pride, & "Sweet Caroline" in the late innings);
... the young (the stadium's extensive amusement area for kids) and the young at heart (the bumper boats in "Crabby Cove");
... those on a traditional baseball diet (dog & a beer) and those, like myself, who prefer a more local flavor (crab-stuffed pretzels & Old Bay-seasoned waffle fries, both of which earned the Roar from 34 seal of approval).
Less identity crisis than full-service marketing effort, the Blue Crabs' diverse menu of entertainment options provides a fun evening for the full-fledged baseball enthusiast and the novice alike. Only rarely did the two efforts collide on Saturday, such as in extra innings when members of the "Blue Crew" took to the top of dugout to cheer lead. The problem? They were blocking fans' view of the critical game action.
The Blue Crabs' five-hour marathon game with the Revolution outlasted the team's self-imposed fireworks curfew and invited the following question: "Is it too soon to trademark the phrase 'Blue Crab Magic'"?
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, winning Saturday night in front of a crowd of 4,471 members of Crustacean Nation with a thrilling come-from-behind effort. The win pushes the Blue Crabs to 4-1 in the second half of the season, giving them the early lead in the Liberty Division.For the record, Crustacean Nation did it again on Sunday, earning an 11-10 walk-off win.
Southern Maryland appeared to be down and out heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Despite yet another great outing from the starting pitching, York held a 5-3 lead heading into the final frame. Keith Ramsey, who pitched six innings of one-run baseball with five strikeouts, lost his chance at a victory when the Revolution scored two runs in the top of the eighth to put themselves ahead.
Clinton Johnston would lead off that inning with a double, and after a single by Jeremy Owens the first baseman was able to score on an RBI grounder from James Shanks. York was content to allow Johnston to score for the chance at a double play, but former Red Sox third baseman Shea Hillenbrand hurled the ball into right field. The end result was runners on second and third with zero outs and Chris Maples at the plate.
Maples wasted no time, putting the first pitch he saw into the outfield for the game-tying single. Jeremy Owens crossed the plate on the play, scoring his second run of the game. It appeared as if George Sandel would be the hero following an intentional walk to Adam Shorsher. The all-star shortstop smacked the ball to right field, and Shanks attempted to tag on the play. A perfect throw by right fielder Jason Aspito shocked the home crowd, however, as Shanks was called out on a close play at the plate.
The Blue Crabs and Revolution would battle through two more innings before the bottom of the eleventh rolled around, and Johnston again came through in the clutch. Following a double by third baseman Patrick Osborn, who ended the game with three hits in six at bats, Johnston strode to the plate and calmly rifled a single to the outfield. Shanks would come up two batters later, and a poke single to right was all the home team would need as Osborn came home to score the winning run.
Looking for an excuse to drive to Waldorf and "feel the Magic happen"? (And really, who isn't looking for an excuse to drive to Waldorf?) Jay Gibbons' Long Island Ducks visit Southern Maryland later this month for a four-game set, July 24-27.
[Image source: Revolution Rumbings (yes, an Independent League blog). Click image for original, likely borrowed, effort.]