LORTON, Va. — Max Power-Kruger (Holy Cross) strolled to the plate in the top of the fourth inning as cracks of thunder were heard and strikes of lightning flew through the sky about 10 miles from South County High School. A high school girl’s soccer game, which was on the football field about 120 feet away, had already been delayed for the developing weather nearly 10 minutes prior.
The DC Grays, who were leading 3-0 before the top of the fourth inning began, and South County Braves, however, played on.
The Grays’ second baseman pumped his bat once, twice and a third time as he stepped into the batter’s box while the Braves’ catcher threw down to second base to end warmups in the top of the fourth inning.
As South County’s pitcher toed the rubber, the team’s manager left the dugout steps and called over to the home plate umpire for a quick discussion. He had been eyeballing the radar for the past inning and asked the umpire to delay the game for half an hour so that the teams could wait out the impending weather with risk to injury.
“I guess they just didn’t want to face me,” Power-Kruger said to his parents with a laugh as they waited out the delay.
To kill time during the delay, players wandered around the South County High School sports complex, pitcher Joseph O'Connell (Harvard) grabbed a football out of the back of his car to throw with his teammates out in the right field bullpen, and others chatted and laughed with their teammates in the dugout.
The wait to resume play never came to an end.
Thirty-five minutes passed since the players left the field when the announcement to suspend Tuesday evening’s game in the top of the fourth was made. The Grays and Braves intend to make up or complete the game at some point later this season.
No storm ended formulating over the field by the time both teams left the ballpark, but one had been brewing on the field since the second pitch of the game when designated hitter Kenny Bell (Southeastern Louisiana) lifted a flyball to straight away center field to leadoff the first inning, as he picked up his first hit of the season.
Quick starts on offense and aggressive base running has given DC the early momentum swings it needs just two games into the summer season.
A night after Scott Bandura (Princeton) swiped home on a wild pitch in the first inning against the Silver Spring T-Bolts, Bell stole third and trotted home on an errant throw from the Braves’ catcher that found the grass in left field, giving the Grays a 1-0 lead.
The early advantage gave Tucker Alch (Catholic), who started on the bump for the Grays, all the confidence he needed. Alch used his fastball — working it on the inside and outside parts of the plate — to jam opposing hitters, forcing them into weak contact, and even broke a few bats in his three innings of one-hit, one walk ball.
Whether it was by design or coincidence, the Grays were aggressive early in the count, putting the ball in play two-or-three pitches into an at-bat or working a quick four-or-five pitch walk. Though DC was aggressive at the plate, the strategy to swing early in the count wasn’t overly-aggressive and it paid off in the second inning.
After first baseman Vince DiLeonardo (Elon) walked on four pitches with an out, Bell picked up his second double of the night to drive in DiLeonardo from first. Bandura, who picked up a hit and an RBI on a sacrifice fly in DC’s win on Monday, continued his hot start and brought in Bell with a single as he scored standing up.
Both offenses were weathered down in the third, going down 1-2-3 before the storm forced the umpires to postpone the game.
Sometimes you create the storm and other times it finds you. In the Gray’s case, the storm that found them ended the storm that they created.
The Grays travel to Alexandria to take on the Aces on Wednesday and will play host to the Bethesda Big Train at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy on Friday night.
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