By Daniel Butler
WASHINGTON – After Friday night’s washout, the weather cooperated Saturday night. Unfortunately, the Gaithersburg Giants did not.
The Giants bested the DC Grays 9-7 in extra innings at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy, as a late game-tying rally ultimately wasn’t enough for DC. As with any closely-fought contest, there were plenty of impressive moments for this young Grays squad to build off of for the rest of the season.
The game began with the spotlight back on DC’s opening day hero, Cooper Vest (BYU) as he took the mound looking to put the Grays back in the win column after Wednesday’s loss at Alexandria and Friday’s rain-out against Bethesda.
Vest was able to make quick work of the Giants in the first, retiring them in order after only seven pitches (six strikes).
In the second, the southpaw got into a bases loaded jam. He managed to escape unscathed thanks to a sparking defensive play by third baseman Brandon Gibbs (Delaware State), who snared a line drive and saved at least two runs.
The Grays’ bats started cold, being shut down in order each of the first two innings.
The Giants broke through in the third inning against Vest, as a triple, hit by pitch, and balk plated the game’s first run. Once again, Vest got a helping hand from his defense, as Grays catcher Burke Camper (Towson) gunned down runners trying to steal third and second base to limit further damage and keep the score 1-0.
In the bottom of the third the Grays’ bats lit up as DC quickly answered the Giant’s run with three of their own – helped by two walks and two Giants errors.
The fourth inning mimicked the first as both teams went down quietly, failing to continue the offensive outburst.
Vest posted five strong innings for the Grays giving up five hits, three walks and just the single run. He left with a 3-1 lead.
Joseph O’Connell (Harvard) came on in relief for DC out to replace the sixth. He was hit hard, and wasn’t helped by some sloppy play behind him. He gave up six runs (all earned) in his two innings of work and by the seventh inning stretch the Giants lead by 7-3.
In the bottom of the frame, the Grays rallied – and as the offense heated up the crowd came back to life as well. Sabin Roane (ODU) had the only hit of the inning, a two-out RBI single – and the Grays took advantage of two walks, a hit batter and a Giants error to trim the deficit to 7-6.
Both offenses were quickly silenced in the eighth inning during this back and forth affair, making for a nervous ninth inning for the DC crowd.
Tim Jinks (Drew) and Frank Craska (Lafayette) kept the Giants off the board in the eighth and ninth innings – continuing their excellent relief work.
The bottom of the ninth started ominously for the home team, with a leadoff ground out then strike out. With the Grays down to their final out, Ben Nardi (Catholic) tied the game with a booming drive over the wall in dead center field to tie the score and send the game to extra innings.
However, in extra frames the Grays bats suddenly went cold, and they couldn’t answer after the Giants scored two runs in the top of the 11th against Kai Cummings (Mount St. Mary’s).
The 9-7 victory evened the Giants’ record at 2-2, while the loss dropped the Grays to 1-2.
The Grays look to get back in the win column as they travel to Silver Spring on Sunday to take on the T-Bolts. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00pm.