For the first time in nearly a week, the DC Grays (6-7) couldn’t come away with a close win, falling, 5-3, to the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (4-8) at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy on Thursday night.
The bullpen dazzled for the Grays, however, combining for eight shutout innings of one-hit ball, but a two-run blast from Max Harper (BYU) in the first and a seventh inning error that allowed a run to score were all the Grays could muster against the Thunderbolts.
Tyler Allen (Xavier (L.A.)) earned his fourth start of the year and cruised through the first inning. Despite a one-out walk, Allen got Casey Gibbs and Ian Jenkins to fly out and ground out, respectively, to end the inning.
The Grays came out of the gates strong in the first. Henry Zipay (Nebraska-Omaha) singled to kickstart the lineup and would eventually steal second base. The Thunderbolts starter would retire the next two batters before Max Harper drove Zipay and himself home with a two-run homer.
Aaron Thomas (Wofford) drew a walk, and Tyler Horvat (Washington and Jefferson) singled to put runners on first and second before a lineout ended the inning.
Allen, meanwhile, went back out to the mound for the top of the second, but he would falter, giving up a double and three straight walks before a comebacker would knock two runs in and him out of the game.
Tratton Strahlei (BYU) struck out two batters in a row and would get the eventual third out, working out of a bases-loaded tough situation. But the damage was done and the Grays trailed 5-2 heading into the bottom of the second.
The bats went cold until the seventh, a spell in which the offense collected just two hits, two walks, and six strikeouts in that time. The two hits came courtesy of Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) and Cam Bufford (Grambling State) singles.
Camden Mounts (Catholic) helped steady the ship with three shutout innings. Working through two 1-2-3 innings and a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fourth by getting back-to-back flyouts.
Diego Barett (George Mason) recorded a strikeout in two no-hit innings, bridging the gap from the sixth through the seventh.
The seventh and the eighth would prove the Grays’ best chances to get back into the contest. With two outs in the seventh, Zipay hit a rocket single. Then, a collision in shallow left field between the left fielder and shortstop allowed a fly ball off the bat of Blancato to drop in and sent Zipay sprinting home, and brought DC back to within two runs, 5-3.
The eighth brought back-to-back one-out singles by Aaron Thomas and Tyler Horvat. The Grays looked to be in business before a strikeout and a fly ball to the center fielder ended the threat.
Sam Stratton (Wofford) pitched the eighth, and Adam Bogosian (Lafayette) would close out the ninth. Each recorded a strikeout in their hitless innings and brought the game to the bottom of the ninth, with the score still at 5-3.
A lead off single sparked hope but an unsuccessful steal of second and two strikeouts would bring the evening to a close in Southeast DC. The DC Grays snapped their three-game winning streak, but will look to get back on track against the South County Braves on Saturday night at South County High School. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m.