By Chris Hirons
LORTON, Va. — Long before last night's resumption of the suspended game between the DC Grays and South County Braves, the Grays already had their opponents on the ropes. When the game was originally scheduled on June 8, the Grays had already forced South County to dig into its bullpen and Tucker Alch (Catholic) had just held the Braves' lineup to a single hit.
DC led by three when the thunder struck too loudly and the lightning bolts flashing through the sky could no longer be ignored. Max Power-Kruger (Morehead State) was gearing up to step into the box when South County’s manager asked the umpires to delay the game on June 8 for safety concerns.
The storm that was brewing over South County High School, the home of the South County Braves, nearly three weeks ago seemed to have carried over to Monday night in the form of the Grays’ offense, which put on its best showing of the season. In six innings on Monday night, DC’s offense collected 14 hits and 12 runs on its way to a 15-10 victory over the Braves.
It was the complete performance the bats needed after scoring seven runs in the first three innings against the Bethesda Big Train on Sunday night - but none thereafter. The Grays bats went dead silent over the final six innings and the Big Train was able to complete a 9-7 comeback win.
There was no such let-up on Monday night. There was a single and an RBI double that nearly missed leaving the ballpark as soon as play started back up on Monday in the top of the fourth. There was a homer, that one coming from Scott Bandura (Princeton), and then back-to-back doubles that drove in a run, each from Tanner Sagouspe (Cal Poly-SLO) and Brandon Gibbs (Delaware State). There was a functioning order, with nine batters in all, with a season-high nine extra-base hits, courtesy of Kenny Bell (Southeastern Louisiana) — who picked up his first three hits of the year — Vince DiLeonardo (Elon), Sam Kaplan (Cornell), Jared Sprague-Lott (Richmond), Alex Rosen (Georgetown), Bandura, Gibbs and Sagouspe.
“It’s definitely a good way to come back [of Sunday’s loss to the Big Train],” Sagouspe said. “It was nice to come back and put up a lot more hits and score some runs. It was a really good team win.”
The Grays turned the matchup into batting practice at South County High School. Brody Mack, Danny Fitzgerald and James Cardinale became their personal pitchers. The RBI double? It came from Bell, who hasn’t had the hottest of starts to the year, and had yet to officially record a hit. Now, after Monday night, he has three.
Bandura, who was slumping prior to Friday’s win over the Braves, is now six for his last 13, which includes two home runs, five runs and nine RBIs over the Grays’ last three games. His home run? A no-doubter that flew over the centerfield wall that could have given Fitzgerald whiplash.
Kai Cummings (Mount St. Mary’s), to his credit, held his own and allowed manager Reggie Terry to give the true pitchers in his bullpen an extra day of rest heading into Tuesday’s off-day. It wasn’t the prettiest stat line — seven runs (five earned) on 69 pitches in 4 ⅓ innings — but as the Grays’ typical innings eater, he did his job. He “relieved” Alch when the game resumed on Monday.
An offensive outburst that carried through the entire game, is what the Grays (6-12) have been searching for in the first half of the season.
The runs haven’t been hard to come by for the Grays lately. They scored a combined 16 runs on Saturday and Sunday. What has been hard to come by, however, are the timely hits that seem to stop falling when the Grays need them the most.
But on Monday, the timely hits never quit. The Grays clicked and kept clicking. They finished with a season-high 18 hits and scored in every inning besides the fifth and the eighth. But even in those innings, the Grays still had traffic on the bases. Bandura finished with four hits in six at-bats and four RBIs. Kaplan walked twice and picked up three knocks, including his double in the fifth. And Sagouspe, who was finishing his high school season when the game officially began, recorded two hits, scored two runs and drove in a run. By the middle of the sixth, the Grays had already scored more runs (11) than they had in any of their previous games.
“It’s definitely different,” Sagoupse said of the transition from high school to college pitching. He’s handled it well, though, and is hitting .381 with seven RBIs in six games. “There’s a lot better stuff coming from the college guys.”
The effort was loud and not wasted. But could they do it again, then some time again after that? We'll find out on Wednesday, when the Grays travel to Alexandria to take on the Aces at Frank Mann Field. First pitch is at 7:00pm.