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Baysox Bullpen Tames Tigers

| April 16, 2011, 10:06 AM | 0 Comments

Despite falling behind 6-1 in the third inning, the Baysox battled back to top the Erie SeaWolves 9-8 at home in a 12 inning marathon game. A rough night from left-handed starting pitcher Rick Zagone forced Manager Gary Kendall to call upon his bullpen in the fourth inning, but they responded with eight and two-thirds shutout innings to help the Baysox improve to 4-4.

Third baseman Brandon Waring blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to help the Baysox stay in the game on a chilly night in Bowie and left fielder Jeff Fiorentino hit a two RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to give the Baysox their first tie of the game at 8-8.

The SeaWolves got off to a quick start against Zagone. Leadoff hitter Jamie Johnson grounded out to open the game, but Brandon Douglas hit a double to left-center field. Ben Guez would ground out for the second out of the inning, but Bryan Pounds then pounded a home run to left field to give the SeaWolves the early 2-0 lead.

Bowie would answer in the bottom of the first win a run of its own. Leadoff hitter and center fielder Xavier Avery opened the inning with a single through the hole at second base before second baseman Greg Miclat and Fiorentino were both retired. With two outs, Waring hit a double to left-center field that would drive in Avery and bring the Baysox back to within one run.

After a scoreless second, Zagone’s struggles continued in the third inning as he allowed four more runs. The inning opened with a lead off walk by Shawn Roof, who would steal second while Johnson was at bat. After Johnson flied out, Douglas would hit an RBI single to right field that pushed Roof across. Guez would hit another single through the hole at second base to move Douglas to second and after a strikeout by Pounds, Audy Ciriaco hit a first-pitch three-run home run to left field that would put the SeaWolves up 6-1.

“It was just one of those days where you go out there and you don’t really have any of your pitches,” Zagone said. “You try and do the best with what you’ve got out there, and they got the best of me today.”

The Baysox hit a three-run homer of their own in the bottom of the third inning. Miclat opened the inning by reaching first on catcher interference and moved to second on a single by Fiorentino. With two runners on and no outs, Waring would step up to the plate and smash a home run over the left field fence and into the woods behind the stadium. The Baysox would get one more runner on base in the inning when right fielder Ronnie Welty reached on a fielding error, but he would be caught stealing and the inning would end with a ground out by catcher Caleb Joseph.

Zagone’s rough night continued as he came back out to pitch the top of the fourth inning. Francisco Martinez opened the inning with a single to right field and Deik Scram walked before Roof grounded into a force out that advanced Martinez to third while putting Scram out at second. Right-handed reliever Ryohei Tanaka came in to replace Zagone, and retired the final two batters to end the inning with the Baysox trailing 8-4.

“Zagone gave up eight [runs], we were looking to get more innings out of him because we were kind of short coming into tonight,” Kendall explained. “We needed to get five [innings] out of him, and  Tanaka really picked us up.  [Left-handed reliever Pedro] Viola, we had to stretch him out more than we’d like to and [right-handed reliever Brandon] Cooney went three strong innings.  Just outstanding.”

Despite trailing by four runs, the Baysox never quit on the game and would storm back to tie the game back up in the bottom of the sixth inning. Rob Waite replaced Luke Putkonen on the mound to start the inning and recorded a quick out by retiring Welty on a ground out. Joseph drew a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Shortstop Pedro Florimon hit a single to left field, and Joseph scored on first baseman Billy Rowell’s sacrifice fly to left. Avery then reached first on a fielding error that also advanced Florimon to second and Miclat kept the pressure on with a single to center field to score Florimon and move Avery to second. Fiorentino then came through with a triple to right field that brought the tying run across the plate, but the inning would end after a pitching change brought Lester Oliveros into the game and he retired Waring on a pop out.

“We had a couple good swings before, got a couple guys on,” Fiorentino said. “[I] got a fastball inside and hit it down the line.”

Five scoreless innings followed the Baysox offensive outburst as both teams’ bullpens carried the game into the bottom of the twelfth inning before another run could get across. With Chance Ruffin on the mound in that frame, Welty smacked a triple to right field to give the Baysox some life. Joseph walked and Florimon was walked intentionally to load the bases with Rowell at the plate. Ruffin, however, would throw a wild pitch that would allow Welty to score the game-winning run in the twelfth inning.

Welty has been on a tear the past four games, hitting two home runs and making key plays on offense that have helped the Baysox go 3-1 over that stretch.

“He’s the same guy right now that he was last year,” said Field Coach Denny Hocking of Welty.  “He’s handling pitches inside right now.  He’s going up there with a good plan and he’s executing his plan.  That what he has to do and that’s what everybody has to do to be successful.”

As a whole, the Baysox offense had a breakout night after winning with just four hits the night before.

“We hit the ball the way we are capable of hitting the ball,” Kendall said. “I think we are capable of more of this, what you saw today, then what we have been seeing with the two, three and four hit nights.  We’re capable of swinging the bats much better.  Waring certainly had some good passes tonight.  All throughout the lineup we had big hits.”

The bullpen has been critical in keeping the Baysox in games recently as two Bowie starters have been called up to Triple-A Norfolk in the past week. In tonight’s game, the Baysox bullpen came just one out short of a nine inning shutout. Tanaka threw three and two-thirds innings and allowed just one hit while striking out four. Viola threw two solid innings and surrendered just one hit while striking out two. The star of the night however, may have been Cooney, who threw the final three innings of the game and did not surrender a hit. Cooney is typically used as a setup man and does not face more than a few batters at a time, but tonight was up to the task of throwing three innings and earning the win.

“It’s one of those things that happens throughout a year,” Cooney said. “Maybe a couple starters have rough patches and then the bullpen gets extended a little bit.  But then again, that’s why we have the guys that we have here.  We sent out three, four guys that were ready to go and could be extended.  They pitched well, obviously, and we were able to cover for Rick so it’s a good day.”

Saturday is Betty White Tribute Night with postgame fireworks. Monday is Mutt Monday where fans can bring their dog to the game and Tuesday is Tailgate Tuesday with $2 draft beers in the Bud Light Picnic Pavilion.

Baysox Baseball – We’ll Knock Your ‘Sox Off. The Baysox 19th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is underway.  They played their first game at Prince George’s Stadium Thursday, April 14, at 7:05 p.m and are at home through April 20.  Parking is free at every Baysox home game and tickets are now available at www.baysox.com.

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