L.J. Hoes hit two three-run home runs to lead the Baysox to a doubleheader sweep of the Portland Sea Dogs at home Tuesday evening. With the wins, the Baysox improve to 61-48 and into first place in the Western Division, a half game ahead of Harrisburg.
The Baysox came back from a six-run deficit to beat the Sea Dogs 7-6 in the first game of the doubleheader, which lasted eight innings. Hoes led the team with three RBIs and two hits and has hit six home runs in the past nine games.
“I have kept the same swing, but I have changed my approach,” Hoes said. “I’m trying to drive more balls and trying to hit the ball out in front instead of letting it get deep like I used to. Instead of trying to hit balls down the right field line, I’m trying to drive balls and drive guys in.”
With the doubleheader sweep, the Baysox improve to 7-8 on the season in doubleheaders. Before the sweep, the team had lost four out of their last five doubleheader games and had been swept twice, but Tuesday, the team found a way to come from behind and win despite a shortened contest.
“In a short ball game, you get down by six runs and wonder whether you can put enough tallies on the board before it ends,” said Manager Gary Kendall. “We got help from some home runs, [Caleb] Joseph hit a two-runner and a three-runner from Hoes that got us back in it. We competed and we did a nice job coming back.”
Mark Wagner got the scoring started for Portland in the top of the first inning against left-handed starting pitcher Mike Ballard with a two out solo home run to left field to give the Sea Dogs a 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, the Sea Dogs added five more runs. With one out and a runner at first base, Wagner hit his second home run of the game to left field to give the Sea Dogs a 3-0 lead. Will Middlebrooks then walked and Jonathan Hee hit a ground rule double to right field before Oscar Tejeda hit a two-run single through the hole at shortstop that knocked in both runners. Mitch Dening then doubled to right-center field and scored Tejeda to make the score 6-0.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Baysox cut the lead in half against Alex Wilson. With two runners on and two outs in the inning, Hoes homered to left field to make the score 6-3.
The Baysox tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning against Portland reliever Kyle Fernandes. First baseman Brandon Waring led off with a walk and catcher Caleb Joseph hit a two-run home run to left field to bring the Baysox within one run. The Sea Dogs then walked three batters to load the bases for second baseman Cesar Izturis, who drew the fifth walk of the inning to force in the tying run and even the score at 6-6.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Baysox walked off with a victory against Portland reliever Blake Maxwell. Shortstop Pedro Florimon drew a lead off walk and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by right fielder Ronnie Welty and a ground out. With two outs in the inning, Izturis knocked in the game winning run on a single to right field.
Ballard pitched five innings and allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits while striking out eight, but he did not factor into the decision. Right-handed reliever Pat Egan pitched a scoreless sixth inning in relief of Ballard and right-handed reliever Armando Gabino earned the win as he pitched the final two innings of the game.
The Baysox got off to a quick start in game two, but left the bases loaded in both the second and third innings without scoring any runs, allowing the Sea Dogs to take the lead. The Baysox once again rallied from behind to win the second game 5-4 thanks in part to another Hoes home run.
Shortstop Greg Miclat and Izturis hit back-to-back singles to start off the first inning against Portland starter Michael Lee. Hoes then hit his second three-run home run of the doubleheader to give the Baysox an early 3-0 lead.
In the third inning, the Sea Dogs cut into the Baysox lead against right-handed starting pitcher Eddie Gamboa. Dening and Tejeda hit back-to-back singles to put runners at first and third. Drew Hedman then knocked in the first run of the game for the Sea Dogs with a sacrifice fly to right field. Later in the inning with two outs, Ryan Khoury reached on an infield single that allowed Tejeda to score and make the score 3-2.
Jeremy Hazelbaker gave the Sea Dogs the lead in the fifth inning on a two-run home run to right field against right-handed reliever Raul Rivero that made the score 5-4.
In the bottom half of the fifth the Baysox took the lead right back against Portland reliever Eammon Portice. Second baseman Buck Britton walked and Waring hit a double to left field. Florimon then tied the game with a ground out that scored Britton and moved Waring to third. With Welty batting, Portice threw a wild pitch that allowed Waring to score and give the Baysox a 5-4 lead.
Gamboa pitched four innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out three batters. It was Gamboa’s second start after making his previous seven appearances out of the bullpen.
“I love [starting] – the game is yours so you can go as long as you can,” Gamboa said. “You can feel your way into a game and it’s great to just go all out for one day and see what you got out there against these hitters. I’m still trying to improve on it and hopefully I get those opportunities later, but I’m just happy to be back to pitching.”
Rivero earned the win as he pitched one and one-third innings and allowed two runs on one hit. Left-handed reliever Pedro Viola recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning and closer Brandon Cooney pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn his ninth save of the season.
Wednesday, RHP Tim Bascom (7-2, 2.95) takes the mound for the Baysox as they take on the Portland Sea Dogs. His opponent will be RHP Charlie Haeger (1-0, 3.00).
The Baysox are back home for seven games starting Tuesday, August 2. The seven-game home stand includes, 105.7 The Fan Night featuring a Scott Garceau bobblehead giveaway Wednesday, August 3, Navy Night Friday, August 5 and the Un-Birthday Big Birthday Bash Sunday August 7.
Baysox Baseball – We’ll Knock Your ‘Sox Off. The Baysox 19th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is underway. Parking is free at every Baysox home game and tickets are now available at www.baysox.com or by calling the Baysox box office at (301) 464-4865.