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.