The Bowie Baysox overcame a season-high five errors with a pair of five-run innings to beat the Reading Phillies 11-9, as third baseman Brandon Waring led the way with five RBIs in a game in which both teams used five pitchers and the lead changed hands five times. The victory pushes the Baysox to 34-31 on the season and keeps them in second place in the Eastern League's Western Division, eight games behind league leaders Altoona.
Starting pitcher Zach Clark was most hurt by the errors, as he finished with five runs (two earned) off seven hits through 3.2 innings. He was saved from the loss by excellent run support, as all but one Baysox batter recorded a hit. Left fielder Tyler Henson was in excellent form, with a 4-for-5 evening at the plate.
"I thought we did a good job establishing the fastball, but there were two hitters I needed to get out and they got me," Clark said. "That made it tough. Getting the leadoff guy out was a priority. When I did that, the inning seemed to go well. When I didn't, it made things tougher for me. I wish I could have thrown more off-speed pitches. Looking back, I wish I would have but at the time it felt like the right thing to do, to go right after them and throw fastballs."
Reading opened the scoring in the top of the second inning, as first baseman Tagg Bozied led off with a single and moved to third on designated hitter Matt Rizzotti's single. Third baseman Cody Overbeck grounded into a fielder's choice that forced Rizzotti out at second, but allowed Bozied to cross home and open a 1-0 lead.
The Baysox responded in a big way in the bottom of the third inning, with all nine batters taking a turn at the plate. Center fielder Danny Figueroa was the first aboard, as he led off with a bunt single and went to third when fellow outfielder Tyler Henson singled on a line drive to left field and was aided by a fielding error that allowed him to reach second. Designated hitter Robbie Widlansky drew a walk to load the bases with two outs.
First baseman Caleb Joseph displayed excellent patience at the plate, drawing a seven-pitch walk that rotated the runners and tied the game, bringing up third baseman Brandon Waring with the bases loaded. Waring, the 2009 Carolina League MVP, took Drew Naylor's first pitch for a ball before he drilled the next one over the left field wall for a grand slam, the Baysox third of the season.
The Baysox defense fell apart in the fourth inning, as they gave up the lead while committing three errors. Bozied led off with another single to center and scored when Rizzotti doubled to right field. Overbeck followed with a third consecutive base hit, a ground ball to center field that sent Rizzotti around third in a race against Figueroa's throw to the plate. The throw got past catcher Steve Lerud for the first error of the inning as Rizzotti scored. Overbeck moved to third on a groundout and scored when second baseman Ryan Adams failed to handle Ozzie Chavez's grounder. Chavez moved to third thanks to a base hit by Quintin Berry and scored on a throwing error charged to Lerud when Berry stole second base.
Eastern League slugging percentage leader Domonic Brown tacked on one more run in the top of the fifth, with a solo blast off reliever Josh Perrault that gave Reading a 6-5 lead. It was the second home run off the Baysox in as many games for Brown, whom Baseball America rates as the Philadelphia Phillies' top prospect.
That lead was short-lived, as Waring unleashed a towering moonshot to left field that cleared the scoreboard and tied the game at six apiece in the bottom of the fifth inning. It was Waring's tenth home run of the season, and the first time that a Baysox player has gone deep twice in a single game since Nolan Reimold hit three homers against Akron in the 2008 playoffs.
"I've definitely had my struggles lately, it feels good to have a good night," Waring said. "[Widlansky and I] were talking about getting ready at the plate. That's what I did differently tonight. Just trying to slow things down and get started earlier so I can see the pitch a little bit longer. We'll just take it day-to-day, keep with it for tomorrow and stay consistent with it."
The Phillies reclaimed the lead in the sixth inning with a manufactured run as catcher Tuffy Gosewisch led off with a walk and advanced to second a sacrifice bunt. He scored when Berry hit a grounder that skipped into left field and past Henson, who slipped on the play and was charged with an error as Berry took second base.
Errors continued to plague the Baysox in the eighth inning, when Overbeck reached first after Waring couldn't handle a grounder to third base. Gosewisch drew a walk, and both runners moved into scoring position on shortstop Freddy Galvis's sacrifice bunt. Chavez grounded to Adams at second base, whose throw to the plate couldn't beat Overbeck as he scored. Gosewisch moved to third on the play, and scored when left fielder Michael Spidale hit a deep fly out to right field. When the dust settled, the Phillies held a 9-6 lead going into the bottom of the eighth inning.
In spite of their defensive miscues, the Baysox kept their composure and came through with some of their most clutch hits of the year in the bottom of the eighth. Shortstop Carlos Rojas led off with a walk, and was joined on base by Figueroa after the outfielder was hit by a pitch for the sixth time this season. After an Adams strikeout, Henson loaded the bases with a single to left field. Baysox RBIs leader Joel Guzman added two more to his tally with a grounder into center field that plated Rojas and Figueroa. Widlansky came up next and delivered the finishing blow with a three-run home run that sailed down the first base line and barely cleared the wall to give the Baysox a 11-9 lead.
"[The pitcher] got ahead, he threw a first pitch strike that I looked at. I probably should have been looking to hit that one," Widlansky said. "But he got ahead and on the 1-2 count he threw a curveball, and kind of left it over the plate a little bit. I just got it up in the air, and out.
"I thought it was going to be gone for sure. Everyone else, they weren't so sure, but I thought it was gone for sure," Widlansky added, with a grin.
Pedro Beato came on to pitch the ninth inning and walked a bit of a tightrope, giving up a double to Bozied to open the inning, throwing a wild pitch and walking Gosewisch with two outs. The Baysox escaped with the improbable victory as Galvis hit a fly ball to Figueroa in center field, giving Beato his fourth save of the season.
"We definitely have a good club," Waring said. "We've given away a lot of games, from stupid stuff with defense and not getting people in when we had the opportunity but tonight was a good win."
The Baysox return to action against the Phillies Thursday at 7:05 p.m. as they head into a weekend full of exciting events for fans at Prince George's Stadium. That game is the Brad Bergesen bobblehead giveaway. Bergesen was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year in 2008, after winning 15 games for the Baysox before starting 19 games in Baltimore in 2009, with a 3.43 ERA. The first 1,000 fans ages three and up will receive the bobblehead in his likeness, presented by Optima Services.
The Baysox host a camp-out on the outfield for Boy Scouts on Friday, June 18, and on Father's Day, June 20, 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.
The club holds its ninth annual Tribute to the Negro Leagues on Saturday, June 19, with former Negro League players available for autographs and pre-game ceremonies honoring the players who endured the color barrier in baseball.
To sign your scouts up for the camp-out, please contact Chris Rogers with the Baysox at (301) 464-4855.
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.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.