The Lakewood BlueClaws finished the regular season with a 2-1 loss at home to the Hagerstown Suns on Labor Day. Yader Peralta (3-1) got the win in relief for the Suns (55-81) while Paige Dumont
(0-2) took the loss for Lakewood. Josh Wilkie
pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save. The BlueClaws finished the season at 69-65 after winning the South Atlantic League title last season.
Pitching and defense have kept Lakewood in games all season, but it cost them on the season's final day. Both Hagerstown runs were unearned and at least one was the direct result of a BlueClaw error.
Trevor Lawhorn reached first on a throwing error by Lakewood third baseman Welinson Baez with one out in the second. Two batters later, a double by Robert Jacobsen plated Lawhorn and the Suns had an early 1-0 lead.
Lakewood came back to tie the game in the fourth. Gus Milner singled to right with one out and scored on a double by Baez to account for the BlueClaws only run of the afternoon.
Baez would have a hand in the only other run of the game that gave Hagerstown the lead in the ninth. John Poppert led off the inning with a groundball to third and reached on Baez's second error of the day. After a sacrifice bunt by Lindon Bond, Jonathan Castro hit a routine fly ball to center field that was dropped by Julian Williams and allowed Poppert to reach third base. Marcos Cabral was intentionally walked to load the bases before Dumont walked Joe Napoli to force in the winning run for the Suns.
Lakewood came up short in their run to make the playoffs and attempt to defend their SAL title. Scott Mitchinson said that while the team was disappointed at not getting the chance to defend their title, they were content with the effort they put forth on the field.
"Everybody wants to play for the ring but Hickory did what they needed to do to eliminate us. It's not like we eliminated ourselves," said the right-hander.
6,900 fans watched the BlueClaws take on the suns at FirstEnergy Park on the season's final day. That crowd allowed the BlueClaws to overtake the Greensboro Grasshoppers in total attendance for the season by 1,150 fans. It is the seventh consecutive season Lakewood has led the SAL in attendance.
It has been widely speculated that C.J. Henry has played his last game as a professional baseball player. The 21-year old Henry was acquired along with Carlos Monasterios, Matt Smith, and Jesus Sanchez from the New York Yankees on July 30, 2006 for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. Henry was a lightly-regarded prospect during his time in the Yankees organization and has struggled at the plate all season. He finished the season hitting .184 with 9 home runs and 38 RBI for the BlueClaws. He was a highly recruited basketball player before signing with the Yankees and his contract expires at the end of this season.
The Lakewood BlueClaws gave it all they had in a desperate attempt to make the South Atlantic League playoffs, but came up short. Knowing their season was over, the 'Claws lost a 2-1 decision to Hagerstown Sunday to close out their season.
Lakewood missed the playoffs after finishing 2006 as the SAL Champions.