The Bowie Baysox took a one-run lead into the ninth inning against Akron Saturday only to have victory slip through their fingers, as the Aeros scored three runs to win 8-6. The loss snapped the Baysox three-game win streak and dropped them to 10-5 on the season. In spite of the defeat, Bowie held on to first place in the Eastern League’s Western Division by half a game.
Baltimore-native starter Steve Johnson gave up five runs to the Aeros through the first five innings off of five hits, but would have been in line the win thanks to the still-hot Baysox offense and their 11 hits in the game.
“I was throwing good pitches and they were just hitting them,” Johnson said. “I was trying to throw a lot of strikes, trying to get them to hit the ball early in the count and it didn’t really work out today, they hit them where people weren’t. So I keep battling, that’s all I did today was just battle and try to keep my team in the game.”
Akron got the early jump on him when left fielder Nick Weglarz knocked the ball out of the park for a two-run home run in the first inning. Baysox designated hitter Joel Guzman erased that lead in the third inning with a three-run blast over the center field wall. It was Guzman’s fourth straight game with a home run, giving him the team lead with five dingers. He is the first Baysox player to homer in four consecutive games since first baseman Leo Daigle did it from June 22-28 of 2006.
“I’ve had a streak like that before, but here, I didn’t realize that I [hit a home run] in four straight games,” Guzman said. “I was just trying to put a good swing, get up there, do the best I can, get a good pitch and put the ball in play.”
The Aeros came back in the fourth stanza with three runs generated by three consecutive doubles. Though he gave up several runs, it was still an improved performance for Johnson, who gave up three home runs in the first three innings at Erie on April 19.
“He was a lot sharper than he was up at Erie,” said Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra. “He had a bit of life to his fastball again. He made some mistakes in the [fourth] inning and they capitalized on the mistakes there, but came back strong in the fifth and threw up a zero after we took the lead, so it was big at the time.”
As they did in Friday’s seven-run comeback, Bowie returned fire immediately in the bottom of the fourth as second baseman Ryan Adams and shortstop Pedro Florimon scored before left fielder Tyler Henson drove in Paco Figueroa for his seventh RBI in three days.
With a 6-5 lead after four innings, the Baysox went into cruise control as they turned to their bullpen, which has been a strength for the club through the early season. Pedro Beato and Pat Egan came in to work three innings of shutout relief. Egan has been dominant in relief so far, with his fourth consecutive appearance without giving up any runs. He has only given up a single hit in that stretch, and has surrendered just one run all year.
“He’s just going right after hitters,” Steenstra said of Egan. “He’s got a good sinking fastball and he’s able to throw his slider for strikes either ahead or behind in the count so, you throw those things together and it’s usually a pretty good recipe for success.”
It all fell apart for the Baysox in the game’s final inning with lefty Wilfrido Perez on the hill going for his fourth save of the year. Perez, who spent much of last year recovering from elbow surgery, walked the leadoff batter and hit the next to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch allowed both runners to advance before Aeros center fielder Tim Fedroff cleared the bases with a double. Fedroff went on to score the final run on a single to center field by Weglarz.
“[Perez] just didn’t have it tonight,” Steenstra said. “Any time you walk and hit batter the first two guys in the ninth, those sort of things usually don’t lead to success, so he’s just got to come out and make better pitches early in the inning.”
The Baysox hope to shrug off the disappointing defeat and win the series against Akron Sunday, in a game that starts at 2:05 p.m. Sunday’s game will be Meet the Team Day, where fans will have the opportunity to meet and get autographs from all of the Baysox players and coaches except for Steenstra, starting pitcher Chorye Spoone and that day’s starting catcher.