Andrew Houghton 7/22/13
Kelton Caldwell (BYU) doubled home Cody Walker (Mississippi State) in the bottom of the tenth inning to give the Grays a 5-4 victory against the Southern Maryland Nationals on Monday at Hoy Field. The win moves the Grays to 21-18 on the season.
The Grays got off to a good start in this one as leadoff batter DJ Miller (Delaware State) doubled and scored in the first and starter Colin Kelly (Catholic University) came out of the gate dealing, striking out five in the first three innings and being helped in the third by some stellar defense from center fielder Eric Ramsey (Wake Forest) and second baseman Peyton Fuller (Troy University). However, it was this same defense that would let Kelly down in the fourth, as Miller bobbled a potential double-play ball and first baseman Jud Sherrill (Alabama-Huntsville) threw the ball past the catcher on a play at the plate, allowing the Nationals to take a 3-1 lead.
Sherrill atoned in part for his miscue in the bottom of the inning, smashing an RBI triple to right-center, but was thrown out at the plate a batter later, leaving the score 3-2 as the game went to the middle innings. Kelly continued to pitch well, and the Grays tied the game in the sixth when Fuller laced an RBI single back up the middle. With Kelly laboring in the ninth, the Nationals appeared to break Grays fans hearts, when a run scored when catcher Walker tried to catch the lead runner at third on a bunt attempt. The throw deflected off third baseman Chris Bzozowski’s (Keystone College) glove and into left field. Kelly escaped the inning with no further damage but things looked bleak with the Grays having just three outs left.
Bzozowski grounded out to third to start the home ninth, but Fuller singled to keep hope alive. A groundout back to the pitcher moved pinch runner Desmond Stegall (Grambling State) to second and then with two outs Miller came through, lining one up the middle to send the game to extra innings. Reliever Chris Nee (Catholic University) gave up a leadoff single in the top of the tenth but struck out the last two men to escape unscathed.
With darkness approaching, Walker led off the bottom of the tenth with a shot to left field that looked as though it might go out but instead hit off the base of the wall as he pulled into second. After Greg Olenski (Delaware) popped up to first base, Caldwell lined the 1-0 pitch into the left-center field gap, scoring Walker easily and giving the Grays the exciting win.
Playoff Watch: The win gave the Grays a 1.5 game lead over the Nationals for the final playoff spot. Unfortunately, Youse’s Orioles matched the Grays victory and remain just a half game behind with just five left to play. The Grays are also within striking distance of the fifth place Baltimore Redbirds, as this win closed them to within 1.5 games of that spot.
The Grays play next on Wednesday, July 24th at 5:00 pm against those same Redbirds at Hoy Field