LAKEWOOD, NJ - The Delmarva Shorebirds used patience and timely hitting in the ninth inning to beat the Lakewood BlueClaws 3-1 on Friday night at FirstEnergy Park.
With the game tied 1-1, Cadyn Grenier and Seamus Curran sat back and watched Lakewood's Luis Carrasco miss on eight straight pitches, putting both men on with walks. Jean Carrillo came up next and dropped down a sac bunt to third, moving both men up. With the infield drawn in, Kirvin Moesquit laced a grounder through the right side for a single, plating Grenier with the go-ahead run. Two batters later, Branden Becker drew another four-pitch walk, with ball four bouncing all the way to the backstop, which allowed Curran to score to put the Shorebirds (32-32, 67-64) up 3-1.
Delmarva turned it over to Nick Vespi in the ninth, but the BlueClaws (44-22, 85-50) wouldn't go quietly. Simon Muzziotti led off with an infield single, and Jake Scheiner coaxed a walk to put the tying runs on base. Colby Fitch tried to bunt the runners up, but Vespi fielded the ball to his right and got the force at third. Jhailyn Ortiz then hit a slow chopper to short, and Grenier's throw to the bag beat him by half a step for the second out, but both runners advanced into scoring position. With Dalton Guthrie at the plate, Vespi went to a full count curveball, freezing him for strike three to end it.
Max Knutson (3-0) picked up the win in relief for the Shorebirds, allowing one run on two hits over three innings. Carrasco (5-2) suffered the loss for the BlueClaws, giving up the two runs in the ninth while walking four batters. Vespi's save was his team-best ninth of the year.
The first five innings belonged to Delmarva's DL Hall, who worked around a shaky start to retire the final 10 in a row to face him. In a no-decision, Hall pitched five scoreless two-hit innings, walking two and striking out five. The Orioles' No. 3 prospect finishes the season with a 2.10 ERA over 94.1 innings and 100 strikeouts even. He ended his year on a 13-appearance streak of allowing one or fewer earned runs; his ERA in those 13 outings since June 10 stands at 0.91.
The Shorebirds took their initial lead with a two-out rally in the second. Curran worked an eight-pitch walk, and Carrillo followed with a single. Moesquit then slapped a grounder up the middle that settled in shallow center, bringing Curran around to make it 1-0.
The BlueClaws bided their time until Hall made his exit and jumped on Knutson in the sixth. Jose Antequera led off with a single, and Matt Vierling slashed a double that rose over Moesquit's head and to the wall in center, scoring Antequera to tie it at 1-1.
Knutson settled in from there and gave up just one more baserunner, keeping things even and setting up the big Delmarva ninth.
Moesquit finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI singles, including the game-winner in the ninth, his second go-ahead RBI base knock in his last four games. He also stole his league-best 46th base of the season. Curran went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks and runs.
Vierling paced the BlueClaws at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and RBI.
The win assures the Shorebirds of at least a .500 record in 2018. With 6,201 in attendance, Delmarva continued to build on its success in front of robust crowds, improving to 13-5 in games with 5,000 or more fans (7-3 with 6,000-plus).
The Shorebirds get their first crack at a winning season against the BlueClaws on Saturday night. Jhon Peluffo (4-6, 5.54) gets his final start of the year for Delmarva against Lakewood's Spencer Howard (9-8, 3.79). First pitch is set for 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 on the call.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.