The Grays struck early and battled late to beat the Southern Maryland Nationals 8-6 on the road at Regency Furniture Stadium Sunday night. Grays 1B Harrison Farmer (Furman) hit a two-out, three-run double to right field to clear the loaded bases in the top of the first after the Grays scored an earlier run on a bases loaded walk by Nationals starting pitcher Zeke McGranahan and took a 4-0 early lead. They tacked on two more in the third and appeared to be in control with left-hander Scotty Ward (Florida Tech) stifling the Nationals bats through five innings, allowing only three hits and a run.
But things started to change in the sixth, as the Nationals broke through off Yahya Muhammad (Coppin State), scoring four unearned runs on back to back two-run singles by center fielder Trevor Freeman and left fielder Brycen Gladbach. The Nationals squeaked another unearned run across the plate off pitcher Sherman Graves (Savannah State), who made his season debut in the seventh inning to tie the game 6-6.
The Grays steadied, then came back. After Tom Murphy (Williams College) pitched a scoreless eighth for the Grays, LF Brandon Kiser (Grambling State) led off the top of the ninth with a double off the left-field wall on the tenth pitch of his at-bat. He would score two batters later as SS DJ Miller (Delaware State) reached on an error by the shortstop. After a stolen base, Miller also scored on a single by C Casey Hicks (Gallaudet) to give the Grays an all-important insurance run and an 8-6 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Jayson Yano (Stevens Tech), who had started the game at second base, shut the door on the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth for his first save of the season and the win moves the Grays into first place in the early season.
The Grays play two on Monday, as they take on the Bethesda Big Train in a doubleheader at Bethesda’s Shirley Povich Field. The first game starts at 5:00 pm.