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South Jersey Baseball:
BlueClaws Drop Home Opener 9-2

Thursday, April 13, 2006

By Mark Fletcher
SJSports Special Correspondent

After starting the season with seven consecutive losses on the road, the Phillies Single-A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws returned home to FirstEnergy Park to take on the Delmarva Shorebirds in their home opener. Despite an 0-7 record, the BlueClaws were playing competitive baseball, losing six of those seven games by one run.

A very patriotic pre-game ceremony featured the R.O.T.C. Color Guard from Lakewood High School on the field and a playing of Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” complete with video on the giant screen and a fly over from McGuire Air Force Base. Fans then joined in the singing of both “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”

The BlueClaws and FirstEnergy Park haven’t had too much luck with home openers over the first five seasons. They have experienced everything from rain to cold temperatures to heavy winds. In a unique promotion for the 2006 home opener a payout of $100,000 was offered to be split among all fans in attendance if the game was postponed due to rain and one inch or more of rain fell at FirstEnergy Park between 6:35 PM and 9:30 PM. A brief shower did pass through during the third inning, but it wasn’t even enough to stop play.

A two out rally in the bottom of the third inning gave the BlueClaws a 2-0 lead. Julian Williams reached first base after being hit by a pitch. Cooper Osteen and Clay Harris followed with base hits.

The Delmarva Shorebirds, the Orioles Single-A affiliate, grabbed the lead with four runs in the top of the fourth inning. The big blow was a three-run home run by Juan Gutierrez.

Delmarva added two more runs in the top of the fifth inning and three runs in the top of the seventh inning to make the final score 9-2.

Chorye Spoone picked up the win for Delmarva, while Matt Maloney suffered the loss for Lakewood. Delmarva improved to 6-2 on the season while the BlueClaws dropped to 0-8.

This series between the BlueClaws and Shorebirds continues with a Friday night game followed by a Saturday afternoon game.

The Lakewood BlueClaws will play a home game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Monday, May 15th. Ironically, their opponent that evening will be the Delmarva Shorebirds.

Photos by Mark Fletcher