The worst first half of a season in Lancaster Barnstormers’ franchise history finally came to a close Sunday. But at the very least, Lancaster still managed to play a part on the Atlantic League playoffs by taking the first of a double-header against rival York Revolution at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
York (34-35) entered the day having a shot at the first-half Freedom Division crown, but needed to win both at Lancaster (24-44) and needed Sugar Land (35-34) to lose at New Britain for that to happen. Sugar Land ended up losing in 10 innings at New Britain. So the opportunity was there for York.
Instead, Lancaster exploded for 11 hits in a 7-5 Game One win in front of 3,653 fans. Every Barnstormer had at least one hit in the victory, with the team combining for four extra-base hits, including a pair of two-out, two-run home runs from right fielder Caleb Gindl and second baseman Dan Gamache.
“The first game was a little bit more aggressive,” Peeples said. “It was tough for them to keep their minds in the game because some of them have flights home (during the All-Star break). So we wanted to bat better the first game.”
Barnstormers’ left-handed starter John Anderson went 4 1/3 innings, working out of jams in the first three frames to hold York to two runs on eight hits. Lancaster reliever Matt Marksberry (4-3) worked a scoreless inning to pick up the win, and closer Cody Eppley later gave up a lead-off homer but picked up his 12th save of the season and his 100th Atlantic League save all-time.
Eppley is one of five Barnstormers who will compete in Wednesday’s Atlantic League All-Star Game in York, alongside Gindl, Gamache, utility player Joe Terdoslavich and catcher Anderson De La Rosa.
Peeples intentionally rested those five all-stars in Sunday’s second game, a 7-2 York win, which may help explain a bit the Lancaster bats being held hitless through the first four innings and mustering just two hits in the Game Two defeat.
Still, Lancaster’s Game One win over York allowed Sugar Land to clinch the first-half Freedom Division crown.
Now, Lancaster will get a fresh second-half record in hopes to contend for a second-half Freedom Division title, a feat it last accomplished in 2015. In other words, the slate is wiped clean and the first-half woes forgotten when Lancaster gets back on the field Friday at Southern Maryland. That’s a good thing for a club that has lost its last seven series and 23 of its last 30 games.
“When you don’t (win the first half) you got to go out there playing to win the second half,” Peeples said. “Everybody knows that. Coming in Friday is a fresh start in everybody’s mind.”