After six strong innings from Justin Armbruester, the Bowie Baysox rallied from behind to walk-off the Altoona Curve, 4-3, on a wild pitch, Tuesday night from Prince George’s Stadium.
The first three frames were about as brisk of a pitcher’s duel as one could ask for. Armbruester faced just one over the minimum – firing 32 pitches and 25 strikes. His adversary, Curve right-hander Jared Jones, matched him by allowing no Baysox to reach first time through the order, tossing 30 pitches and 24 strikes with five strikeouts through his first three frames.
In the fourth, Bowie would have more success against Jones a second time through the order. Cesar Prieto led off the frame with a walk before Coby Mayo notched a bloop single for the first Baysox hit of the evening. That set the stage for Heston Kjerstad, who lined a double into the right field corner to plate Prieto and give Bowie a 1-0 lead. The RBI was a team-leading 17th for Kjerstad, and the double extended his on-base streak to 19 games – the longest in the Eastern League this season. With an opportunity to add on further, the next two hitters would strike out and Jones would wiggle out of the jam.
Armbruester, on the other hand, would continue cruising. The right-hander had retired seven in a row and allowed only two base runners with two out in the sixth inning. However, Altoona would change that quickly. Liover Peguero would hit what was the second of his three doubles on the evening, before Matt Frazier reached on an error from shortstop Anthony Servideo to extend the frame. Henry Davis would make the Baysox pay for the miscue, as he launched a three-run opposite-field home run to give the Curve a 3-1 lead. All three runs would go unearned on the tab of Armbruester, who would finish the sixth and take a no-decision.
Despite losing momentum, the Baysox responded immediately in the bottom half of the sixth, forming a two-out rally of their own. John Rhodes tripled to right field, extending his hitting streak to five games, before Mark Kolozsvary belted a two-run home run to left center off Altoona right-hander Matt Eckelman to tie the game at three.
From there, both teams would threaten with base runners in the later innings, but each bullpen worked to keep the game tied. Tyler Burch delivered 1.2 scoreless innings of relief and handed the ball to Wandisson Charles to finish the top of the eighth. Charles (W, 1-1) would pitch a scoreless top of the ninth to allow Bowie a chance to pick up its first walk-off win of the season in the bottom of the frame.
Prieto led off the inning with a double to left field. Mayo followed with a walk, before Kjerstad bounced into a fielder’s choice that allowed Prieto to advance to third. Rhodes stepped up to the plate and fell behind 0-2 in the count before a Juan Minaya (L, 0-2) offering bounced in and snuck past the catcher Davis. Prieto crossed home easily to clinch the victory for the Baysox in what was their second win over the Curve in six attempts this season.
The win snaps a three-game skid for Bowie, who is now 10-22 on the season. The Baysox continue their six-game set with the Curve on Wednesday night, with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. ET from Prince George’s Stadium.