Bowie Baysox starting pitcher Rick Zagone held the Trenton Thunder to two runs over six innings Saturday night in the Baysox 6-2 victory. The left-hander allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out four en route to his first victory for the Baysox.
“It feels good,” Zagone said after the game. “A couple of guys came up and said congrats, and it just feels good to get the ‘W’. Up here, you’re going to face good pitching every day, so you’ve just got to go out there and do your own thing. Their guy was carving us up, so it was a good battle for a while.”
The Baysox struggled early against Thunder hurler Andrew Brackman. Brackman was throwing fastballs in the high-90s and recorded four strikeouts through the first two frames. The last three were on fastballs of 96, 96 and 99 mph.
Bowie broke through against the hard-throwing right-hander with four runs in the bottom of the third inning and never trailed in the contest. Catcher Caleb Joseph was hit by a pitch to start the inning and moved to second base when second baseman Carlos Rojas drew a one-out walk. Shortstop Greg Miclat poked a ball down the third base line for a double, scoring Joseph and Rojas. The ball took an awkward hop against the wall on the left field line on the plane, and the left fielder was charged with an error as Miclat advanced to third.
Designated hitter Ryan Adams drove Miclat in with a sacrifice fly to right field for the second out of the inning. With the bases now clear, Eastern League All-Stars Tyler Henson and Joel Guzman drew back-to-back walks to put runners on first and second for first baseman Joe Mahoney. Mahoney delivered his fourth hit in five Double-A at-bats with a single to right field, plating Henson and putting the Baysox in front 4-0.
“[Brackman] threw hard,” Henson said. “He’s a tall guy; when guys are tall like that, it seems like they release the ball a lot closer than most guys, so it looks a lot harder. A lot of guys took a plan to the plate, where they’d sit on one pitch through that at-bat and got it. Unfortunately I didn’t, but Miclat had a big hit off him and then [the third] inning we put together a pretty good run and held that lead the rest of the game.”
The Baysox added another run in the fourth inning. Joseph led off with a double to left-center field and moved to third on a passed ball during Adams’ at-bat. After Figueroa worked out a walk, Rojas hit a ground ball to second base to drive in Joseph and put the Baysox up 5-0.
Trenton jumped on the board with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Jack Rye led off with a solo home run to right field for the first run. Rene Rivera followed with a ground rule double to right field and moved to third on a groundout. Zagone threw a wild pitch to Edwar Gonzalez and Rivera scampered home to cut the lead to 5-2.
“I let the two-seam up,” Zagone said. “I think [Rye] was guessing a little bit, but he crushed it. Other than that, my two-seam and my change-up kept them out in front and I was just trying to have them get themselves out.”
Zagone ran into trouble after recording the first two outs in the sixth inning. He allowed a single to Marcos Vechionacci and walked Rye to put runners on first and second. The walk drew a visit from Pitching Coach Kennie Steenstra as Jose Diaz started warming up in the Baysox bullpen, but Zagone induced a ground ball off the bat of Rivera to end the inning. After his first 20.0 innings of Double-A ball, Zagone is 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA.
The Baysox added another run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Henson led off with his third triple of the season to right field and scored on a bloop single to right-center field by Guzman to put the Baysox in front 6-2.
Baltimore Orioles left-hander Mike Gonzalez relieved Zagone in the bottom of the seventh inning. He retired all three batters he faced in order on a strikeout and two flyouts. He primarily threw breaking balls to the first two batters and his fastball registered at 89 mph on the stadium radar gun.
“The first thing was to get the shoulder healthy,” Gonzalez said. “And I’m definitely going through that process. It’s definitely a good feeling to finally go out there and throw with no pain. I don’t put too much thought into my velocity, what I want to see is my command, how I’m feeling with all that. Sometimes you’re going to go out there and not have your velocity, so I don’t worry about that too much anymore. I know it’s not 82-83 like it was a month ago, so I’m fine with it right now, just trying to find some more consistency on that breaking ball.”
“I’ll be going to Aberdeen,” Gonzalez continued. “Throw a couple innings and after that we’ll see how I feel, hopefully it’s up to the big leagues. I want to start the second half, but obviously I’ve got to run it through some guys. It’s going to be a big deal how I throw in Aberdeen after those two innings.”
Diaz made his Baysox debut in the top of the eighth inning. After going 3-0 with a 1.69 ERA and 12 saves in 26 games for the Single-A Frederick Keys this season, Diaz walked the first batter he faced in Double-A this year on four pitches. He retired the next three batters, the final two on full counts. Right-hander Bob McCrory worked a scoreless ninth to slam the door on the Thunder as the Baysox retired the final six Thunder batters in order.
“I felt good,” Diaz said. “My first hitter, I tried to get him by and throw my pitches down. But, my pitches were working good, and I tried to get the inning out. I played Double-A last year. This year I played in Frederick and I was doing good, just waiting for that call. I felt comfortable, I had to do my job; throw strikes, come inside and throw my breaking pitch.
With the win, the Baysox improve to 47-42 on the season and have won their fourth consecutive game at home and nine of their last 11 games at Prince George’s Stadium. Bowie remains in second place in the Western Division, 7.5 games behind the Altoona Curve and 1.5 games ahead of the Akron Aeros.
The Baysox meet the Thunder for the third game of the series Sunday at 6:05 p.m. on Superhero Night. RHP Ryohei Tanaka (4-9, 5.07 ERA) taking the hill against LHP Wilkin de la Rosa (2-3, 5.36 ERA). Fans are encouraged to dress up as superheroes to hang out with Wolverine, Captain America, Wonder Woman and everyone’s favorite superheroes. Fans can also meet real-life heroes from various law enforcement agencies in the parking lot starting at 4 p.m.
The teams meet for the final time Monday at 11:05 a.m. Monday’s game is the final contest before the two day All-Star break. The Eastern League All-Star game will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 14, in Harrisburg, Pa.