The Bowie Baysox put 20 runners base in a 9-6 victory over the New Britain Rock Cats Sunday night. Shortstop Carlos Rojas went 3-for-4 in the contest with 4 RBIs, the most he has recorded in a game since April 18, 2009, when he tallied three as a member of the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
With the win, the Baysox improve to 59-49, holding on to second place and the final playoff spot in the Western Division, trailing first place Altoona by 2.5 games. Akron remains in the playoff hunt, 2.0 games behind the Baysox in third place.
Starting pitcher Rick Zagone notched his second Double-A win as the high-kicking lefty gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits through 6.0 innings. Zagone struggled to control the ball in the first inning, walking two batters and giving up a run on a wild pitch.
"I just wasn't hitting my spots," Zagone said. "Just rushing a bit and I settled down in the second inning and just tried to get ground balls. At the start of the game, just feeling like I had to throw perfect pitches. In the second inning I realized I just had to be around the zone and let my defense work behind me."
Rock Cats center fielder Ben Revere opened the game with a single to right field, and stole second base before Joe Benson drew a walk with one out. Chris Parmelee followed Benson's walk with one of his own to load the bases for designated hitter Juan Portes, who grounded out to third base as Revere scored the game's opening run. Second baseman Steve Singleton drove in Benson and Parmelee to open a 3-0 lead when he lined a single to right field.
The Baysox wasted no time attacking the New Britain lead, as right fielder Jonathan Tucker led off the bottom half of the first inning with an infield single to third base and second baseman Ryan Adams drew a walk on four pitches. After left fielder Tyler Henson popped out, designated hitter Joel Guzman unleashed a three-run moonshot over the left field wall. It was the 24th home run of the year for Guzman, who has 34 games left in which to challenge Walter Young's single-season record of 33 homers.
"It was really nice [to have the lead erased right away]," Zagone said. "Guzy got a hold of that one, and it was good to go out there with a new game."
Center fielder Danny Figueroa drew a walk with one out in the bottom of the second, and scored when shortstop Carlos Rojas ripped a double down the third base line, giving the Baysox a 4-3 lead that they would build on and protect the rest of the way.
"Rojas battles," Field Coach Moe Hill said. "He's one of the guys that can bunt, can hit and run and do the little things that win you ball games. The first hit he got was a hit and run, and he put the ball in play. We've done it several times with him, and he's been successful doing it. When you get the infield moving around and you make contact with it, you have a chance of finding a hole somewhere and luckily he hit it down the line and we got a run out of it." Bowie broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth inning. Adams opened the frame and reached first after being hit by a pitch for the eighth time this season. The next three Baysox batters reeled off three consecutive hits, as Henson lined a single to center field and Guzman broke his bat on a bloop single to left-center field that loaded the bases.
First baseman Joe Mahoney hit a grounder to right for a single as Adams and Henson scored, and Guzman was caught in a run down and tagged out as he tried to take third base. Mahoney stole second base before Waring drew a walk, and the bases were loaded again when New Britain reliever Cole DeVries issued a free pass to catcher Steve Lerud. Rojas drove in two more runs with a single to left field as Mahoney and Waring scored to give the Baysox a commanding 8-3 advantage.
Zagone settled down after the first inning, facing just one batter over the minimum through the next 4.0 innings. He gave up a pair of runs in the sixth, as Portes reached first after hitting a ground ball to second base that Adams swiped at and missed as it rolled into the outfield. Left fielder Mark Dolenc blasted a home run just to the right of straightaway center field, cutting the Baysox lead to 8-5.
The Baysox scored an important insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Mahoney reached first on shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos' fielding error, and moved to second on Waring's single to left field. Lerud reached first on a fielder's choice that moved Mahoney to third as Waring was thrown out at second base. Rojas capped off the Baysox scoring with a single to center field, plating Mahoney for his fourth RBI of the game as the Baysox took a 9-5 lead.
"It was a good day for me and for the team," Rojas said. "I was only thinking to try to hit the ball hard somewhere. We had a good game today."
New Britain managed one last rally in the top of the ninth inning against Baysox saves leader Pedro Beato. Pinch hitter Alexander Soto opened the inning with a single to right field that Eric Lis followed with a walk. Soto moved to third base on Revere's fly out to center field and scored when De Los Santos reached on a fielder's choice that forced Lis out at second, making the score 9-6. Beato generated another ground ball to end the game as Benson hit the ball to Rojas at shortstop, who flipped the ball to Adams for a close out at second base.
The Baysox have their first day off since the All-Star break on Monday, and embark on their farthest road trip of the year for six games in Portland and New Hampshire starting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Portland. They return Tuesday, August 10 for three games with the Boston Red Sox affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs. That series includes a spectacular fireworks show on Tuesday, August 10, for Navy Night and Orioles Pride Night on August 12.
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