The Bowie Baysox were shut out 4-0 by the Erie SeaWolves Sunday afternoon as they lost the series with Erie three games to one. Bowie had none of the errors that have plagued the team all season, but they struggled mightily at the plate as they were outhit 11-2.
Starting pitcher Chorye Spoone allowed one run on five hits in six innings of work. It was his fifth loss of the season, as the Pasadena, Md. native dropped to 2-5 on the year with a 5.17 ERA.
“His off-speed pitches are great,” said catcher Caleb Joseph. “His change-up we didn’t have to use much today because he’s got such good sink, but he used the curve ball and slider plenty to get guys off-balance. That’s kind of the Spoone I envision when I read about before I started catching him. The guy’s got more in the tank; the thing about him is he gets stronger as the game goes on. For a guy coming off surgery, I feel like that’s huge, not to run out of gas.”
Spoone struggled to find the strike zone early on, throwing at least three balls to four of the first five batters he faced. He walked Erie second baseman Justin Henry to open the game, and Henry moved to third on a stolen base and a fly out by Andy Dirks before Spoone’s teammates bailed him out. Outfielder Wilkin Ramirez hit a fly ball that Baysox right fielder Jonathan Tucker was able to get under before throwing as hard as he could to catcher Caleb Joseph at the plate. Joseph was hit hard by Henry as the runner charged towards home, but got up showing the ball firmly in his hand as the home plate umpire called Henry out.
SeaWolves first baseman Michael Bertram hit a ground rule double down the first base line in the top of the second frame and moved to third on Josh Burrus’s ground ball single to first base. Shortstop Cale Iorg drove Bertram in for the game’s opening run with a groundout to second base on the next play.
Spoone ran another batter to a full count in the third inning before he struck out the hard-hitting Ramirez on three pitches. At that point, something seemed to click for Spoone, and he had little difficulty finding the strike zone consistently and went on to strike out six batters. It was his highest strikeout count since he recorded seven on July 3, 2008, his last game he pitched before being placed on the disabled list for the rest of the season.
“It feels awesome to be throwing strikeouts again,” Spoone said. “In the beginning of the season, I wasn’t getting ahead of anybody and then when I did throw my curveball they would hit it and I would think, ‘Man I used to be able to get strikeouts a lot, and now I can’t get ‘em.’
“As for the first couple innings, it’s funny, because in my pregame bullpen, I was throwing strikes all the time,” he continued. “I got out there, and I didn’t change anything — I don’t know what it was. Something so small, you know how pitching is, little things can make things really bad. But after that strikeout, I found the strike zone, I got my release point and everything cruised from then out. Getting a lot of ground balls with good defense behind me and the strikeouts brings me back to where I need to throw. I initially tried to get quick contact and it felt awesome to go deep into the game and pitch the way I know I can.”
“He’s definitely made strides,” Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra said of Spoone’s path to recover his pre-surgery form. “He’s getting comfortable out there and you can see the arm strength’s coming back. He’s got a ways to go yet, but he’s making progress every time he goes out and that’s all you can ask him to do.”
Though Spoone pitched well, he was outdone by his counterpart, Brooks Brown, who was making his first start of the year for Erie. Brown no-hit the Baysox through his five innings of work with five strikeouts and two walks. Center fielder Matt Angle broke up the no-hitter with a well-executed bunt single to first in the bottom of the sixth.
Angle has done very well for the Baysox in his first week since coming off the disabled list on May 13, going 7-16 at the plate (.438) with three stolen bases in just four games.
“Above all, it feels good to be playing again,” Angle said of his early success. “I’ve been able to get a couple bunts down, I’ve been fortunate with a couple ground balls that have gotten through. That helps, when things are going your way.”
The Baysox were down 1-0 most of the game before the SeaWolves broke it open in the eighth inning. Henry led off the top of the frame with a double off reliever Zach Clark that Dirks followed with an RBI triple on a fly ball to deep center. It was the first earned run that Clark had surrendered in over 14 innings. More runs followed, though, as Ramirez drove Dirks in with a broken-bat single to left field to make it 3-0. Ramirez’s hit embodied the rotten luck that the Baysox have endured at times this season, as shortstop Matt Tucker was lined up to make an easy play on the ground ball, but had to jump out of the way to avoid the barrel of Ramirez’s broken bat that was hurtling towards him. Ramirez stole second and Erie was able to tack on one more run with a double on a line drive to left by Burrus.
“It’s frustrating,” Joseph said. “I haven’t been part of a team like this in a long time. Especially when we’ve got the ability to go eight in a row, nine a row … I feel like on paper, we’re better than a lot of these teams, but they’re executing at perfect times. They get jammed shots, we don’t get jammed shots; we hit line drives at guys, they hit them in the gaps; they make solid plays, and we fumble around a little bit. It’s just a nightmare that won’t end sometimes. Brutal. But it’s still early and we’ll keep at it, it’s just … it wears on you, for sure.”
With the loss, the Baysox fall to 17-21 and drop to fifth place in the Eastern League’s Western Division, six games behind the Altoona Curve.
The Baysox hit the road Tuesday after a day off for a three game set against the Binghamton Mets. They return to Bowie on Friday, May 21, for a weekend series against the Eastern Division-leading New Hampshire Fisher Cats, a series that is loaded with events that fans will be sure to enjoy. Friday is the Baysox fourth annual Girl Scout Lock-In with activities through the night at the ball park for girl scouts, who are welcome to spend the night at Prince George’s Stadium. Saturday is A League of Their Own Night, which will honor and celebrate the women of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League that inspired the film A League of Their Own. Fans will be able to meet and get autographs from several of the women who played in the league and the game will be followed by the Baysox signature fireworks celebration. Sunday’s game, presented by Maryland Public Television, will be the Husky Dog Webkinz toy giveaway for the first 1,000 fans ages 3-12 and will feature a special appearance by Word Girl. To register for the Girl Scouts lock-in, please contact Chris Rogers with the Baysox at (301) 464-4855.