By Daniel Butler
GAITHERSBURG, Va. – The DC Grays were fresh off a dominant victory Friday night, one that ended a losing streak and had them feeling as scorching hot as the sun beaming down on them Saturday afternoon. The team came to Gaithersburg for an afternoon doubleheader set on being above .500 and climbing up the league standings with two victories.
The hometown Giants had other ideas, however – and the result was a Gaithersburg sweep that sent the Grays back to DC with a 3-6 record.
Game 1 began how Grays fans have come to expect: a quick, dominant first inning of work by the starting pitcher, Michael Eggert (Wofford). Thereafter, however, things began to fall apart.
The Giants plated four runs in the second and third. All of this was occurring while the Grays bats stayed silent, the team mustering only four baserunners in the first four innings of play on just a single hit.
As DC was looking to bounce back from the early deficit, a familiar face came out of the bullpen – righthander Joseph O’Connell (Harvard). O’Connell’s appearance began not unlike the pitcher that preceded him – a solid scoreless outing followed by a crushing slew of runs.
The fifth inning of the ballgame, and O’Connell’s second, was marked with a pair of errors by second baseman Max Power-Kruger (Holy Cross) that led to an eventual four unearned runs for O’Connell and a greater deficit for the DC Grays. The sixth inning only got worse as the Giants boomed a pair of two-run homers over the wall to tack on four runs to their lead.
The Grays bats made some efforts to get back in the game. The fifth inning featured a flurry of baserunners as six Grays reached first base; however, a double play followed by an eventual three men left on base got the Grays no more than two runs on the inning.
The offense followed up with another three runs across the next three innings, but it was too little, too late for DC. The final was 15-5. Grays catcher Burke Camper (Towson) swung the bat well, going two for four and driving in a run. The pair of hits raised his average to .385 on the still-young season.
The nightcap of the twinbill was much closer, but the result still was not what the Grays faithful was hoping for.
After another quiet first inning, the Grays offense got going in the second. Hot-hitting Jay Tarkenton (Old Dominion) singled and came around to score on an RBI single by Jahlil Hendricks (Southern), giving the Grays their first lead of the day. Unfortunately, the team left the bases loaded – squandering a chance to take on more. DC plated another run in the third to go up 2-0 when Ben Avila (Grambling) drove in Robby Wacker (Emory) before the Grays stranded two more runners to end the frame.
Lefty starter Hasan Aquil (Lincoln) gave the Grays a solid outing – throwing 3.2 innings of one-run ball. (The run was unearned.) He was relieved by Andrew Calhoun (Wofford), who gave up one in 1.1 innings of work.
In the fifth the Grays scored on another RBI hit by Avila, before the Giants answered back to tie the game. It stayed tied through the end of seventh innings (the back-end of Ripken League doubleheaders are seven-inning contests) and the game went into extra innings.
The Grays struck first. A pair of singles by Kenny Bell (Southeastern Louisiana) and Scott Bandura (Princeton), helped by a passed ball that allowed Bell to get in scoring position, gave DC a 4-3 lead.
Yet again, the Gaithersburg Giants bats stepped in to rain on the Grays’ parade.
Pitcher Frank Craska (Lafayette) came out for his third inning of work, and it was one inning too many. Three hits and a costly Grays error added up to two runs and a walk-off win for the Giants. A long day in the hot sun and evening shade yielded only a pair of disappointing losses for the visitors.
The Grays look to bounce back on Father’s Day Sunday as they travel to Lorton, VA to take on the South County Braves at 7:00pm at South County High School.