Trailing by three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Bowie Baysox staged a four-run rally to defeat the Harrisburg Senators 5-4 in a thrilling contest in front of 7,881 boisterous fans Friday night at Prince George's Stadium. The Baysox move to 35-32 on the season and hold steady in second place in the Eastern League's Western Division, eight games behind Altoona. It was the second time in three games that the Baysox have come from behind to win with an eighth inning rally.
"Any time you can come back late in game and put some runs on, that's a tough time of the game," said Manager Brad Komminsk. "You have some closers out there, some guys that throw pretty hard, so it's a tough time. It's nice to be able to come back like that and put some runs up and win the game."
Starting pitcher Chorye Spoone's six-game quality start streak came to an end as he surrendered four runs (one earned) on five hits through 5.0 innings with one strikeout and four walks. Spoone took a no decision thanks to the clutch hitting and yeoman's work out of the bullpen by right-handers Eddie Gamboa and Bob McCrory.
"I was ahead [in the count] a lot of times," Spoone said. "Even the walks that I had, two of the four were 0-2 walks. Those are unacceptable, everyone knows that. I was around the zone, I made great pitches. I got ground balls again like I've been doing, but my breaking stuff wasn't quite where I wanted it to be today. I threw a lot of great change-ups, and then made pitches that I needed to get double plays.
"A couple errors hurt, but I know these guys are trying hard," he continued. "I can't blame them, they're trying to make the play and get a double play. Sometimes it's frustrating when you know you're battling and you do make the two pitches to get double plays and one's the error and the other one doesn't get turned. These guys are trying really hard, and I can't ask for any more than that. Obviously the runs don't help, but I think I was pretty solid."
Harrisburg took the lead after Washington Nationals shortstop prospect Danny Espinosa led off the top of the fourth inning with a double to left field. Left fielder Marvin Lowrance hit a grounder to Baysox shortstop Carlos Rojas, who tried to throw out the lead runner at third, but his throw sailed out of play, giving Espinosa a free pass across the plate to open a 1-0 lead.
Senators catcher Jhonatan Solano drew a walk to open the top of the fifth inning, moved to second on third baseman Adam Fox's groundout to Spoone, and settled at third after a wild pitch thrown to second baseman Michael Martinez. Martinez hit a grounder to third baseman Brandon Waring, who didn't get his glove low enough to snag the ball, as it rolled into left field, as Solano raced home to score on his error. Espinosa then doubled to right field, sending Martinez all the way home from first base. Lowrance followed with a single to center fielder Danny Figueroa that advanced Espinosa to third. Figueroa couldn't come up with the ball on the play, and Espinosa came home to put the Baysox in a 4-0 hole.
The Baysox broke the shutout in the bottom of the fifth inning. Rojas led off with a infield single to third base, beating a throw that the first baseman couldn't corral, sending Rojas to second on the throwing error. Figueroa then singled to center to send Rojas home from second base and trim the deficit to 4-1.
Gamboa took over for Spoone in the sixth inning and allowed three hits through three shutout innings to keep the Baysox in a position to win. He escaped potential trouble in the seventh inning, giving up two hits that put runners on the corners with two outs before left fielder Tyler Henson snared a line drive to end the inning.
The Baysox bats came through in the bottom of the eighth. Second baseman Ryan Adams and Henson hit back-to-back singles to open the inning, putting runners on first and second. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and came around to score when first baseman Joel Guzman drilled a ground ball up the middle of the diamond for a single, bringing his team-leading RBI total to 47.
"I got two strikes, and the infield brought in first and third," Guzman said. "I just wanted to put the ball in play, bring at least a runner in. Right there, I've got to protect the zone. He gave me a pitch to hit, I just tried to make contact."
Guzman moved from first to third on designated hitter Robbie Widlansky's double down the left field line before catcher Caleb Joseph drew a walk to load the bases. Waring grounded into a double play that retired himself and Joseph, but allowed Guzman to score the tying run and left Widlansky standing on third base.
Senators reliever Zech Zinicola's first pitch to right fielder Jonathan Tucker ran in close and slipped past the catcher for a passed ball, as Widlansky raced home and scored the winning run, toppling the covering pitcher as he slid across the plate.
Former Baltimore Oriole Bob McCrory took over to close out the game and got a fly out before engaging in an 11-pitch battle with Espinosa that ended with a grounder to Adams at second base. Adams's throw to Guzman was too far down the line and the ball struck Espinosa as he hustled to the base, preventing the ball from getting out of play and advancing the runner to second. McCrory wrapped the game up with the next batter, as Lowrance hit a grounder to Rojas, who stepped on second base and tossed the ball to Guzman for a double play.
"Every victory coming from behind is completely satisfying," Guzman said. "Everybody is happy that Gamboa got the win, got two innings in, pitched pretty good. Spoone battled all the way around, got two errors, but he battled away. That's a good win, got the save with McCrory, and that's the way it goes."
The Baysox and Senators match up again on Saturday at 6:35 p.m., which is the Baysox ninth annual Tribute to the Negro Leagues. Both clubs will wear replica Negro League uniforms, and former Negro League players will be available for autographs with pre-game ceremonies honoring the players who endured the color barrier in baseball.
On Sunday, Father's Day, families have the opportunity to play catch on the outfield and meet the Baysox players and coaches in a free autograph session before the game from 12:30-1:15 p.m. Sunday's game also gives fans ages 18 and up a chance to win a big screen TV courtesy of Best Buy of Bowie in the Miss Utility Diamond Dig.
Think Outside The Box with the Baysox in 2010. The Baysox 18th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is underway. Catch all the action in Natural Definition! Baysox full-season and partial-season ticket packages are available now at www.baysox.com or by calling the group sales department at (301) 464-4880.