The Baysox outlasted the Curve in a battle Thursday night to avoid the sweep and end a three game losing streak with a 3-1 win. With the win, the Baysox improve to 73-64 on the season and move back into second place in the division after a loss by Richmond.
Right-handed starting pitcher Oliver Drake pitched five and two-thirds scoreless innings to help boost the Baysox back into playoff position with his third win of the season with the Baysox. Drake did not allow a run on five hits while striking out six and shutting down an Altoona offense that had experienced success early in games this series.
“I went out there trying to pound the zone and fortunately I had three pitches working today and I was able to keep them off-balance and get a lot of ground balls,” Drake said. “It’s always nice when you get a run in the first inning and go out there from the second inning on with the lead. As a pitcher it gives you a great deal of confidence when you go out there with the lead because you feel really comfortable trying to challenge hitters and trying to get quick outs.”
The Baysox offense was given the gift of five errors by the Altoona defense, but struggled to take advantage of many of the mistakes and put the game away early. Bowie’s hitters were just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base, but thanks to another strong outing by the pitching staff, did enough to stay ahead of the Curve.
“We had some better at bats and Joe [Mahoney] came up with a big hit, but we failed on some opportunities early in the game to get some guys over and into scoring position with less than two outs,” said Manager Gary Kendall. “It’s a work in progress there offensively, but I brought the guys in a little later today to get them away from the ballpark for a little bit and I don’t know if that helped or not.”
Bowie jumped out to the early lead in the bottom of the first inning against Altoona starter Mike Colla. Center fielder Xavier Avery started the inning by reaching on a throwing error by shortstop Brock Holt and second baseman Buck Britton knocked him in with a double to right field that made the score 1-0. Britton attempted sacrifice bunts on the first two pitches of the at bat, but swung away with a 1-1 count and surprised the Altoona infield, which was playing in, with a shot down the first base line to drive in the run.
“We have a verbal sign that gives guys the option [bunt or swing] and he went to the bunt early, but they had been pitching him in and he got a pitch and he not only got [Avery] over but he got him in,” Kendall said. “If it wasn’t so early in the game I probably would have bunted in the situation, but it was early in the game and he has been going to right field pretty good. I thought he might get [Avery] over and I was trying to put another hit on there and not just trade an out to move a runner.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning the Baysox added on to the lead. With two outs, left fielder LJ Hoes reached on an infield single and then first baseman Joe Mahoney hit his 11th home run of the season to right-center field to give the Baysox a 3-0 lead.
“They have been scoring runs on us and we weren’t scoring runs these past few days so it was important to get a little cushion,” Mahoney said. “I think we were pressing a little bit; Richmond has been doing the same thing we are doing right now and we knew we had to win the game tonight so we just tried to relax and put some runs on the board.”
The Curve got on the board in the top of the seventh inning against right-handed reliever Pat Egan. With two outs, Starling Marte singled to left-center field and Brock Holt reached on a walk. After a wild pitch advanced the runners, Marte scored when Jeremy Farrell reached on an error by shortstop Pedro Florimon to cut the lead to 3-1.
Egan pitched one inning in relief of Drake and allowed one unearned run on one hit to earn his third hold of the season. Left-handed reliever Pedro Viola pitched one and one-third scoreless innings and struck out three batters while allowing one hit. Closer Jose Diaz pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his 22nd save of the season.
While the Baysox pitching staff did a good job starting innings and getting ahead of Curve hitters, they struggled once the first two outs had been recorded. Bowie’s pitchers allowed five two-out hits in the game and Altoona’s only run came as a result of a two-out rally. All three of Marte’s hits in the game came with two outs.
Friday, RHP Zach Clark (10-8, 4.75) takes the mound for the Baysox as they begin a four game series at home against the Erie SeaWolves. His opponent will be RHP Brooks Brown (2-9, 6.06)
The Baysox are home through Monday, Sep. 5 for an eight game home stand to finish the regular season. Promotions during the home stand include Kid Appreciation Day Saturday, Sep. 3 and Fan Appreciation Day Sunday, Sep. 4.
Baysox Baseball – We’ll Knock Your ‘Sox Off. The Baysox 19th season as the class Double-A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles is nearly over at Prince George’s Stadium. Parking and game programs are free at every Baysox home game. To purchase Baysox single game tickets and check out all the exciting promotions, visit www.baysox.com or call the Baysox Box Office at (301) 464-4865.