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.
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