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.