Five DC Grays members were honored when the Cal Ripken Collegiate League announced its 2022 All-League teams in late August. Dane Campenhausen (Wooster) and Henry Zipay (Nebraska-Omaha) finished with First Team honors, while Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern), Kai Cummings (Mount St. Mary’s) and Kai Leckzas (Georgetown) were named to the Second Team.
Campenhausen led the team in homers with eight, while Zipay led the team with an average that hovered around .400 for most of the season. Sam Blancato, too, was a consistent bat in the middle of the Grays lineup after playing in Georgia Southern’s NCAA Regional. He crushed three homers and drove in 16 runs during the summer, which included a grand slam in his DC debut.
Cummings returned to the Grays after his 2021 summer that saw him as a two-way player. In 2022, he exclusively pitched and was near the top of the Cal Ripken League leaderboard with a 2.95 ERA.
The backend of the bullpen, too, was stones all summer. Led by the rising freshman Leckszas, who boasted a 1.22 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 14 ⅔ innings, relief pitching was never much of a worry for the Grays.
Backed by five of the league’s top players, the Grays had all the right pieces to put together a solid 2022 season. Unfortunately, it never turned out that way, but DC was on the brink of winning just about every night. Luck never seemed to turn the Grays’ way as they were in contention all season
It might not have been the ending the DC Grays wanted, but the journey to get there won’t be forgotten by the DC faithful.
Sitting behind the Silver-Spring T-Bolts by three games in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League standings when play began after the All-Star break on July 7, the Grays catapulted into a playoff spot, using a late-season push – via a five-game win streak – to move from dead last in the standings and into the postseason.
The All-Star break gave the Grays a much-needed rest after they stumbled out of the gates in the first half of the season. They were so close, inches even, away from turning early season losses into victories, but bad luck would sometimes get in the way of success.
However, when the calendar flipped to the second half of the season, the Grays suddenly ignited a spark that was set ablaze. That started in the All-Star game where Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern), Cam Bufford (Grambling State), Dane Campahusen (Wooster), Henry Zipay (Nebraska-Omaha), Kai Cummings (Mount St. Mary’s), Jake Davidson (Kenyon) and Kai Leckszas (Georgetown) all pitched in for the South’s 7-1 win over the North.
From there, the Grays caught fire with a 9-5 record over their last 14 games. That was until they were defeated by the Gaithersburg Giants in the play-in round, 10-1. But along the way, DC was led by a solid top of the lineup in Zipay (.386 batting average), Patrick Vandenbergh (Lafayette; .359), Max Harper (BYU; .304), Camphausen (.283) and Blancato (.266).
Vandenbergh, a returner from 2021 when he hit .325, found his groove in the second half after a slowish start because of inconsistent lineups. But once he was penciled into the lineup for good, his bat took off. He finished the year with a .529 on-base-percentage, drawing 19 walks and only striking out eight times.
Zipay, meanwhile, burst onto the summer scene after redshirting at Omaha in the spring. He was the Grays lead-off hitter for most of the summer and led the team in average. Blancato, who arrived in D.C. after playing in Georgia Southern’s NCAA Regional, crushed three homers and drove in 16 runs for the Grays.
Harper (four homers) and Camphausen (eight homers) emerged as steady middle-of-the-order bats once the Grays got rolling in the second half of the season. Their bats were hot once the calendar flipped to July and they didn't cool off until the end of the year.
The pitching, too, did its job for the entirety of the year as it was led by Cummings and Davidson, both returners from 2021. After his first season with the Grays last summer, Davidson led starters in ERA with a 2.58 mark in 38 ⅓ innings. Cummings, meanwhile, wasn’t too far behind with a 2.95 ERA.
The backend of the bullpen, too, was stones all summer. Led by the rising freshman Leckszas, who boasted a 1.22 ERA with 27 strikeouts in 14 ⅔ innings, relief pitching was never much of a worry for the Grays. Sam Stratton (Wofford) worked 19 ⅔ innings which was good for a 2.58 ERA. And Diego Barrett (Potomac State), who came in from relief more times than not, carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning on the last day of the regular season.
Backed by a solid top of the lineup, frontline starting pitching and a solid bullpen, the Grays had all the right pieces to put together a solid 2022 season. Unfortunately, it never turned out that way, but DC was on the brink of winning just about every night. Luck never seemed to turn the Grays’ way as they were in contention all season.
The Grays would like to thank their sponsors, players, host families, coaches, and of course, the great Grays fans for their continued support. The Grays appreciate all of the support from so many wonderful people for supporting summer collegiate baseball and the DC Grays RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program.
Saturday evening saw a downpour in Northern Maryland that postponed both the Big Train and Grays previous matchups before their Sunday night battle. These two teams were on opposite trajectories this season. Bethesda rode high at the top of the standings while DC had lost a few tough battles in a row. But the Grays had come close to downing the Big Train before this matchup so they weren't invincible.
Kai Cummings (Mount St. Mary’s) made his first start since June 19 in Alexandria, where he shutout the Aces in his six innings of work. Cummings came with some high heat to open up the game in the first two innings. He allowed a few base runners but ultimately no runs scored for the Big Train and Cummings registered two strikeouts in the first inning.
The bats started the game on the right track. Three-hole hitter Cam Bufford (Grambling State) smoked a double off the bat and into left field. In the second inning, Patrick Vandenbergh (Lafayette) notched a single, one of his two on the day. The Grays had a couple of walks in the second but no runs to show for it yet.
After Cummings delivered two strong innings, Joe Bladel (William & Mary) took over in the third inning. The story of this inning, though, was Vandenbergh who made a spectacular catch at second base. There was a hot shot to his left which was snagged by Vandenbergh for the out. Bethesda scored the first run of the game in the process, however, to make it 1-0 after three innings.
The fourth inning was a bit of the same story. A new pitcher took the bump for the Grays. Camden Mounts (Catholic) stood in and pitched a flawless fourth inning which included a strikeout. Like the last inning, this one featured a Golden Glove worthy defensive play from Vandenbergh once more. This time it was a softer ground ball to his left side. Vandenbergh dove to his knees to stop the ball from rolling into the outfield. In the process, Vandenbergh twisted his body and spun around to fire a bullet into the glove of Camphausen.
In the fifth inning, the Grays struck gold and found the runs they were looking for. Aaron Thomas (Wofford) led the charge with a single struck to right field which was followed by a Vandenbergh single that was poked into center. With Thomas holding steady at third, he was able to sprint home off a wild pitch and get the Grays on the scoreboard. But they weren't done just yet because Derrick Booker (St. Mary’s) hit a well-placed RBI base hit to score Vandenbergh from second and propel the Grays into a 2-1 lead at the halfway point.
When the second half of the game was underway, the Grays saw a familiar face take the mound. The team leader in strikeouts with 19, Kai Leckszas (Georgetown) returned to the mound in the fifth inning. Leckszas worked through a clean frame and registered a strikeout. The inning was also highlighted by a wonderful defensive play by starting catcher Humberto Torres (Gardner-Webb). Torres nailed a runner trying to steal second for his fourth runner caught base runner of the summer.
Not only did Torres make some great plays behind the plate but he also delivered a single at the plate in the sixth inning. The Grays weren’t able to cash in, however, so Caleb Causey (Mississippi Valley State) took over pitching duties in the bottom half of the sixth. That sixth inning was the Big Train tie the game. Picking back up in the seventh inning, Bryce Molinaro (St. John’s) came in for a relief appearance. He gave up no runs in the inning and Bufford made a smooth glove and throw play from third to first to close the inning out.
In the eighth inning, Tyler Horvat (Washington & Jefferson) got the Grays a base runner by hustling down the first base line and was called safe. Horvat didn’t end up reaching home so the Grays and Big Train remained tied 2-2 with an inning of baseball remaining.
Adam Bogosian (Lafayette) started the bottom of the eighth in relief but was replaced by Sam Stratton (Wofford) after giving up the go-ahead run. Stratton was able to work through the remainder of the inning and send the Grays to the ninth with three outs to play with. The Grays didn’t go down without a fight. Bufford drew a two-out walk and Dane Camphausen (Wooster) singled into the opposite field just a few inches away from the first base foul line. But after Harper struck out swinging the Grays fell just short of conquering the Big Train for the first time this season.
Sunday marked the Grays final contest before the All-Star break. Seven Grays will represent the team in Bethesda for Tuesday night's All-Star game. Those players are Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern), Henry Zipay (Nebraska-Omaha), Cam Bufford, Dane Camphausen, Kai Cummings, Kai Leckszas, and Jake Davidson (Kenyon).
After the All-Star break wraps up the Grays will play the Giants in Gaithersburg Thursday night at 7 p.m. Then, DC will then return to Nationals Youth Baseball Academy the next night on Friday to face the Alexandria Aces at 7 p.m.
After a streak of success with three-straight wins last week, the Grays have fallen under hard times this last week. The two-game series against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts resulted in a modest split between the two clubs. A trip into South County left the Grays empty-handed after a blown 5-0 lead. Then the Grays proceeded to allow the Big Train to come back and defeat them by scoring three runs in the ninth and winning 4-3.
Following those tough losses have been ones where the margin of defeat has widened. The Grays slew of road games hasn’t gone as planned. First a 10-6 defeat in Olney to the Cropdusters. Next a 9-1 loss to the Aces. This latest contest in Gaithersburg resulted in a similar story.
Diego Barrett (George Mason) was tabbed as the starting pitcher Wednesday night. In the bottom half of the first, he delivered mixed results. Barrett allowed a run off a leadoff solo home run. However, following that early blunder, Barrett was able to bear down and register three strikeouts to get out of the first inning.
Opening up the second inning was Max Harper (BYU) who gashed a ball out to the left-field wall and cruised into second with a double. That hit would prove to be Gray's best base knock of the night. Aaron Thomas (Wofford) walked only for Brian Depman (Georgetown) to ground out but advance the runners.
With runners on second and third and only one out, this would be one of the more golden opportunities to light up the scoreboard with runs. However, Cam Bufford (Grambling State) grounded into a fielder's choice which resulted in the runner from third to home getting tagged out. A Patrick Vandenbergh (Lafayette) groundout to second base wrapped up the inning with the score still at 1-0 Giants.
It was the second inning where the Giants did a majority of their damage and ultimately put the game out of reach. Barrett struggled with command on the mound and allowed the bases to be loaded off three straight walks. Then he yielded multiple-RBI base hits to drive in runs for the Giants. By the end of the inning, Barrett had given up six runs on four hits, and four walks but he did notch four strikeouts across two innings pitched.
There was some action to speak of in the bottom frame of the second inning. Michael Mallas (Lafayette) legged out an infield single. He was put on second base after team leader in AVG and OBP Henry Zipay (Nebraska Omaha) drew a walk. The base runners didn’t lead to any runs crossing home plate so the Grays came up empty and still in a 6-0 hole.
As the game dragged on, the Grays flipped pitchers for the third and fourth innings. Bryce Molinaro (St. John’s) came in to relieve Barrett. After allowing another run on the board, Molinaro and the defense buckled down. The BYU bros combined for a nifty fielding play to end the third. Harper was the cut-off man at first base and gunned out a runner trying for second base. The tag was made by his teammate Ozzie Pratt (BYU). With a quick 1,2,3 inning behind them, the Grays switched up the lineup for the fifth inning on.
Alex Emmanuel (Canisius) replaced Bufford at third base. Logan Scully (George Mason) became the new catcher. Tyler Horvat (Washington & Jefferson) subbed in for Thomas in right. Dane Camphausen (Wooster) at first for Harper and Jarrett Jenkins (Georgia Southern) for Vandenbergh at second base. In addition to the lineup and defensive substitutions, the Grays brought in Sam Stratton (Wofford) to pitch in the fifth and sixth innings.
Stratton delivered two strong innings of work out on the mound. He allowed base runners and one to step on home but powered a fastball high for a commanding strikeout to end the inning. In the sixth inning, Stratton made a couple of athletic plays out in the field. Not once but twice did he handle a sharply hit comebacker to the mound and threw it to first for outs. While the Grays' pitching improved throughout the game, the hitting did not.
The new lineup couldn't master the Giant's dominant pitching that seemed to get stronger and stronger as the night grew darker. After no hits in the fifth or sixth, the Grays finally tacked on their first and only run of the game in the seventh. Emmanuel led off the inning with a walk which was followed by a Jenkins walk. Scully chipped in by advancing the runners to third and second off a ground ball. Then it was Zipay who drove in Emmanuel from third with a well-placed grounder of his own. Ultimately Pratt struck out which ended Gray's shot of scoring more runs.
In the seventh and eighth the Grays put on a new pitcher in the form of Adam Bogosian (Lafayette). Bogosian got through a scoreless seventh inning with the help of some wonderful defense at shortstop. Pratt gloved a tough ball on a hop and completed a sexy jump throw to nail the runner in a bang-bang play at first. He even picked up where he left off in the eighth inning by lasering two throws from short to first for two of the three outs. The Giants did however score yet another run to make it 9-1 heading into the final frame.
That last half-inning saw Emmanuel strikeout followed by Jenkins walking which was his second walk in two at-bats for the game. But any hope of a comeback was snuffed out as Scully flew out to left and Zipay grounded out too short which ended the ball game.
The Grays will have a shot to get back on track this Friday back at Nationals Youth Baseball Academy against the South County Braves at 7 p.m.
On the first home Sunday afternoon at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy this season, the DC Grays hosted the Bethesda Big Train, who came into the game with a league-best 11-2 record, and sat atop the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League standings.
Hoping to rebound after a tough loss the night before to the South County-Metropolitan Braves, the Grays battled the Bethesda Big Train for the third time this season.
The Grays got on the board early in the first inning, as Tyler Horvat (Washington & Jefferson) stood on second base and Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) on first converted a double-steal with no outs, while an errant throw to second base sailed over the shortstop’s head from the Big Train allowed Horvat to score.
Taking a 1-0 lead, the bats for both sides went cold until the bottom of the fifth, until Blancato roped an RBI double that scored Horvat from first as the Grays doubled their lead.
Then, in the next at-bat, Cam Bufford (Grambling State) smoked an RBI single that allowed Blancato to scurry home from second, making it 3-0 Grays through five innings.
The Big Train, however, finally got on the board in the sixth, thanks to a solo home run to right-center field by D.M. Jefferson off of Jake Davidson (Kenyon) to make it 3-1.
Davidson, who started for the Grays, cruised through the 22 Big Train hitters he faced, and he finished the day with three strikeouts, two walks, five hits and one run allowed through six innings on 75 pitches.
Heading into the top of the ninth with a 3-1 lead in hand, the energy in the stands around the stadium felt as though it was going to be a feel-good win against the best team in the league.
But disaster struck for the Grays, as the Big Train loaded the bases off of a walk and two singles, before Sean Lane recorded a two-RBI single to tie the game, and TJ Rogers gave the Big Train a 4-3 lead with an RBI single of his own.
The Grays couldn’t make any magic happen in the bottom of the ninth, even though Jarett Jenkins (Georgia Southern) walked to lead off the inning. But from there, it was three up, three down to end the game, as the Big Train’s closer struck out the next three batters he faced.
The DC Grays fall to 6-10 and stand at fifth in the standings. They’ll travel to Olney, Md. to take on the Cropdusters for the third time this season with a 5 p.m. first pitch on Monday night. The Grays play two more road games this week and return home on Friday, July 1 to face the South County Braves (7 p.m.).
On a cool and crisp Saturday evening for Cal Ripken League baseball, the DC Grays and South County-Metropolitan Braves engaged in another competitive battle on the diamond. The Grays were coming off a two-game split against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts while the Braves defeated the Gaithersburg Giants the night prior. Going into the matchup, the Braves had nabbed the first two matchups over the Grays this summer. However, both outcomes had been within three runs. The Grays had another shot to close the gap on the Braves.
The game had a quiet beginning as the first inning yielded one base runner for each side. Tyler Horvat (Washington & Jefferson) was the starting pitcher for the Grays, his first start of the season after playing a trusty left field in the previous games this week. Horvat relied on his defense and the glove of Cam Bufford (Grambling State) early on. Bufford fielded and threw out two potential base runners in the first inning.
Then in the top of the second inning, the first firework was sent off the bat of Jarrett Jenkins (Georgia Southern) to put the Grays up 2-0. Jenkins smashed the first pitch he saw in the at-bat and gave the ball a ride over the left center field wall. After the top half of the second, Horvat and the defense worked through a bottom half jam that saw Braves runners reach second and third base but neither cross home plate.
Not much occurred during the third and fourth inning for either offense. Those innings were pitchers and defense duels where three total players reached a base. Closing off the fourth inning, Horvat found his groove on the mound. He struck out back-to-back batters swinging to give the Grays some mojo heading into the fifth. And with this spark plug, the Grays ignited their offense.
Jenkins picked up right where he left off, smacking a single to lead off the inning. After Patrick Vandenbergh (Lafayette) drew a walk, Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) stepped into the batter's box. Jenkins moved up to third base off a wild pitch in Blancato’s at-bat. Then he was able to scurry across home plate when Blancato skied a pitch just far enough into the outfield so Jenkins could tack on Grays’ third run of the evening.
Horvat started mowing down Braves hitters in the bottom halves of the fifth and sixth innings. Two strikeouts in the fifth were registered from the hot arm of Horvat. Furthermore, two more Braves batters guessed wrong on Horavt’s high fastballs and off-speed filth in the sixth inning. When Tyler Horavt exited the game, he allowed no runs and one hit while striking out nine batters. Quite the remarkable outing on the bump for Horvat.
In the sixth inning, the Grays decided to flip the batting order upside down. Nearly the entire original 1-9 hitters were switched out on offense and defense. This change was pre-planned and proved to work in the sixth inning. Max Harper (BYU) led the frame off with a solo shot early into his count. It was his second home run of the summer and it powered the Grays to a 4-0 lead. Later in the same inning, Brian Depman (Georgetown) blooped a single in between two fielders which scored Michael Mallas (Lafayette). The Grays held a 5-0 lead entering the final three innings.
But then the Grays coughed up their lead as a trio of pitchers combined to yield seven runs in the bottom of the seventh – though not all of the runs were earned to put DC down, 7-5, entering the top of the eighth.
Down by two runs now, the Grays were unable to deal with the sudden change in momentum. The pitching and defense sharpened up in the eighth but the offense couldn’t recover. After going down 1-2-3 in their frame of the eighth, the Grays showed some life when held to their last three outs. Blancato smoked a single followed by a Bryce Molinaro (St. John’s) walk. There were two runners on with two outs for Harper who homered back in the sixth inning. However, a well-struck ball found leather out in the field and the game was over with the Grays falling to the Braves 7-5.
The Grays now fall to 6-9 on the summer and sit in fifth place in the Cal Ripken league standings, sitting ahead of the Thunderbolts and Cropdusters The Grays game will look to get back in the win column on Sunday at 1 p.m. back at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. DC will have a big chance to rebound as they face the league-leading 11-2 Bethesda Big Train.
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.
For the third night in a row, the DC Grays could call themselves winners after defeating the Silver Spring-Takoma T-Bots, 9-5, at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy on Tuesday night.
There was no need for late-inning dramatics, a reason to bite your nails, or a walk-off single like the Grays got from Max Harper (BYU) on Monday night, but a five-run seventh inning that moved the Grays in front of the T-Bolts for good certainly helped.
Pitching for just the second time since coming off Tommy John surgery, right-hander Joe Bladel (William & Mary) pitched effectively in his two innings on the bump. He worked around an early run in the first to set Silver Spring’s Justin Taylor down with a strikeout to end the first before posting a clean second inning.
Then, needing many innings from the bullpen, Nick Fletcher (Holy Cross) stepped up with four innings of work. He struck out three, while his only blemish came on a three-run homer. Outside of that? He was nearly hitless.
The Grays punched back in the bottom of the first when Henry Zipay (Omaha) and Dane Camphausen (Wooster) singled and Aaron Thomas (Wofford) walked to load the bases. That set the stage for Tyler Horvat’s (Washington & Jefferson) hard-hit ground ball that the first baseman couldn’t come up with to score Zipay from third.
The T-Bolts scored once more in the third, but again, the Grays struck back again once Camphausen doubled to lead off the bottom half and Jarrett Jenkins (Georgia Southern) drove him in with two outs.
Next, the T-Bolts took the lead back in the fifth with their three-run homer but Fletcher bounced back to record three-straight outs to retire the side before posting a flawless sixth inning. Bryce Molinaro (St. John’s) came on for the top of the seventh and posted a scoreless frame, which set the stage for the Grays to storm back in the bottom half.
DC sent 11 hitters to the plate in the seventh, recording two hits, walking three times and two hit-by-pitches. Here’s how the sequence went:
Zipay was hit-by-a-pitch to lead the inning off; Patrick Vandenbergh (Lafayette) singled; Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) followed that with a single; Camphausen reached on an error that scored Zipay; Thomas singled which scored Vandenbergh; Horvat was hit-by-a-pitch, driving in Blancato; a wild pitch yielded another run; Michael Mallas (Lafayette) walked to load the bases once more; and Zipay capped the inning off with another walk to score Thomas.
After all of that, the Grays led 7-5 heading into the eighth, to which Caleb Causey (Mississippi Valley State) recorded a shutdown inning. And then, Camphausen’s two-run homer was the nail in the coffin that extended the Grays’ lead to four.
In the ninth, Sam Stratton (Wofford) and Diego Barrett (George Mason) combined to record the final three outs and send the Grays home with their third consecutive win, moving DC to 6-7 on the season.
The Grays will look to get to .500 on the year with a win Thursday night back at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy to face the T-Bolts once again. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m.
All hope seemed lost for a DC Grays comeback in the bottom of the ninth when Cam Bufford (Grambling State) hit a fly ball to right field with two outs and runners on second and third, trailing by two.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
The Cropdusters right fielder dropped the routine fly ball, to which Diego Barrett (George Mason) on third and Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) on second capitalized upon, scoring to tie it at four a piece on the errant play.
And in the next at-bat, Max Harper (BYU), facing an 0-2 count, drilled the third-pitch he saw straight up the middle to score Bufford from second, walking off the Cropdusters.
But how did the Grays end up in this situation?
Earlier in the game, the Grays pounced first in the bottom of the second, with Logan Scully (George Mason) hitting a double down the left field line, driving in Tyler Horvat (Washington and Jefferson) to take the 1-0 lead.
The Cropdusters quickly responded, however, tying it in the third and in the fourth sending home two, before scoring their last run of the night from a homer in the sixth.
The Grays attempted to make a comeback in the bottom of the eighth, as Bufford drove home Henry Zipay (Nebraska-Omaha) to cut the deficit to two. Within striking distance to tie and then some with the bases loaded, the Grays were cut short, as the Cropdusters relief pitcher who came in with one out subsequently struck out the first two batters he faced, which ended the inning.
Though at the end of the night, the Grays are the ones that end up in the win column, thanks to some unlikely bottom of the ninth heroics, and improve to 5-7 this season.
The Grays will look for their third win in a row and take on the Silver Spring-Takoma T-Bolts Tuesday night at 7 pm.m at the Washington Nationals Youth Academy.
Coming off of three consecutive losses, the DC Grays needed a big-time performance on the road against the Alexandria Aces at Frank Mann Field. That’s exactly what they got on Sunday evening in the form of a 7-0 shutout victory that moves their record to 4-7.
It marked their second straight win over the Aces in Alexandria. The last victory on June 14, marked their first win over Alexandria and the last win on the Grays' record before the three-game slide. Now that streak is over, the Grays can go into this week’s three-game home stand with some momentum.
There was plenty of action for the Grays in the first inning. Sam Blancato (Georgia Southern) was the game’s first base runner, drawing a five-pitch walk, which became the first of three walks on the day for Blancato.
Cam Bufford (Grambling State) reached first base safely thanks to a throwing error from the Aces third baseman. With two on and one out, Bryce Molinaro (St. John’s) smashed a double down the left-field line that scored Blancato and Bufford, giving a 2-0 lead for Grays early.
Over the next couple of innings, the Gray's offense wasn't able to put the ball in play consistently. However, that didn’t end up being an issue since starting pitcher Kai Cummings (Mount St. Mary’s) came out with his best stuff on the mound.
Cummings struck out three batters and allowed one hit in the first three innings to preserve the Gray's 2-0 lead. Near the end of the third, Cummings got some assistance from the Grays' defense. Molinaro, Patrick Vandenbergh (Lafayette), and Dane Camphausen (Wooster) tagged teamed in a 6-4-3 double play.
In the top of the fourth, the middle of the lineup woke up in a big way to plate more runs on the board. Aaron Thomas (Wofford) led off with a single that was followed by an RBI double into the right-center field gap off the bat of Logan Scully (George Mason).
Scully’s double increased the lead to three, but the Grays weren’t quite done in the fourth. Scully tagged up to third base off a fly out. Then Scully made it home safely after another Aces error at third base. Cummings continued his stellar outing on the mound in the bottom half, notching back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning and moved his total to a season-high five strikeouts.
After a quick fifth inning for both sides, the sixth proved to be yet another fruitful inning for the Grays offense.
Scully reached first base off of a dropped third stroke. Two batters later, Camphausen drilled a baseball down out into left field for a double that put him at second and Scully at third. With two outs and two runners in scoring position in the sixth inning, Diego Barrett (George Mason) stepped into the batter's box. Barrett worked himself into a hitters count and delivered the RBI single the Grays were looking for.
Next, Blancato drew yet another walk that loaded the bases for Bufford. In the first bases-loaded situation for the Grays all game, Bufford came through with a single just past the third baseman’s outstretched glove.
Camphausen scored from third and everyone advanced a base. It was now a six-run lead for the Grays with a chance to do more damage. And more was done as Barrett scored from third base off a wild pitch. Blancato tried to score as well but was tagged out at the plate, but not before the Grays tacked on three more runs on the scoreboard to make it a 7-0 game through six innings.
Cummings finished the sixth inning cleanly, even impressing by throwing out at a base runner at first, where he had to dive for the ball near the mound. Replacing Cummings in relief first was Caleb Causey (Mississippi Valley State), who worked the seventh inning. He recorded two strikeouts which ended the inning and kept it a 7-0 game.
The Gray's bats were silenced in the seventh and eighth innings, as Alexandria had a chance to get some runs back, but this hope was snuffed out by the Grays’ excellent pitching. Sam Stratton (Wofford), meanwhile, entered in the eighth. He painted the outside corner to notch a strikeout and keep the good mojo going for the Grays. Thomas, too, also made a sensational diving catch in that right field to save a potential run from scoring home.
Flipping forward to the bottom of the ninth it was Adam Bogosian (Lafayette) who closed the game for the Grays. He ended it in nearly flawless fashion, allowing one walk but striking out another batter. The final out of the game was snagged by Molinaro on a sharp grounder to the third-base side of the infield.
All in all, the DC Grays conquered the Aces in Alexandria behind shutout pitching and sharp hitting. The team will look to keep the winning up in the familiar home confines of Nationals Youth Baseball Academy this upcoming week.
First, they’ll play the Olney Cropdusters Monday night followed by games against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts on Tuesday and Thursday night. All three games are slated for a 7 p.m. first pitch.