If the York Revolution players want a chance to defend their Atlantic League title, they know they must continue their summer surge.
A little help from the Lancaster Barnstormers wouldn't hurt either.
The Revs rode the strong pitching of Ryan Feierabend and a string of three doubles in the second inning to a 2-1 triumph over Long Island in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Sovereign Bank Stadium on Tuesday evening.
After failing to hold a two-run lead early in Game 2, the hosts rallied back behind a rare three-run single from Chris Nowak to earn a 6-5 triumph in the nightcap in front of an announced crowd of 5,449.
The sweep moved the Revs' record to 21-16 for the second half. York (57-50 overall) increased its wild-card playoff lead over Somerset (a 3-2 loser at Camden) to 41/2 games. It also closed the Revs within 11/2 games of division-leading Lancaster (23-15), which was swept in a doubleheader by Sugar Land.
"Obviously we're trying to make the playoffs and get another championship in here," Nowak said. "This felt like a playoff game in a sense and to end like that was a lot of emotion for a lot of the guys."
Game 1: In the opener, the Revs struck for their only runs in the bottom of the second with a two-out rally. York strung together three straight doubles by Nowak, Jeff Fiorentino and Liu Rodriguez to score both its runs.
Feierabend (6-3) was in complete control en route to picking up the win. The southpaw needed just 77 pitches in the seven-inning contest. He walked none and surrendered four hits. He dropped his ERA to 2.43.
"When you get good pitching it makes players stay (mentally) in the game," York manager Andy Ethchebarren said. "Our starting pitching has been outstanding,"
Game 2: After York took a 2-0 second-inning lead in the nightcap, the Ducks rallied back with single runs in the third and fourth innings. The visitors tacked on two more runs in the fourth to take a short-lived lead.
The Revs rallied with a four-run fifth inning, sparked by Nowak's three-run, two-out single. With the bases loaded, the York first baseman lofted what seemed like a routine flyball that dropped between Long Island's center and right fielders. Fiorentino, who was off on contact from first base, scored easily behind Ramon Castro and Andres Perez for what was scored a three-run single, one of just five hits by the Revs in the nightcap.
"It was nice that they were all running on the 3-2 pitch," Nowak said. "It was right in between both of (the outfielders). It was like they (were thinking) 'you take it' and I was obviously thankful that we scored those runs to take the lead."
Nowak admitted that he didn't think the ball would drop.
"There was too much air under it," he said. "They have some good outfielders. I was like, 'ah,' but the further it got out there and they were both converging, it was still in between them. They both kind of stopped and watched it fall in."
Five relievers picked up a short outing from York starter Derrick Gordon. Gordon walked three and surrendered three hits and two earned runs over 32/3 innings.
"Until that one inning (the fourth), Gordon was throwing the ball pretty good," Etchebarren said. "Then he got wild."
Ricardo Gomez capped off the team's comeback by getting the final three outs. It wasn't without drama, however.
Gomez allowed a single, before a controversial walk put two on with one out. Another single failed to plate a run, however, when York center fielder Scott Grimes threw a one-hopper to catcher Salomon Manriquez to nail the runner at the plate.
"That was a short-hop ball," Etchebarren said. "That was a tough play for (Manriquez). But he stayed right in there and got it. And Scottie made a hell of a throw. That was everything that Scottie had. He threw it and fell down and everything else."
Gomez got the final out in style, picking off a runner at second, which set off an on-field celebration.
"That was outstanding," Etchebarren said. "He was out."
Adam Thomas, who allowed two runs over one inning of relief, was credited with the victory.
-- Reach Ryan Vander sloot at sports@yorkdis patch.com.