There are so many day-trip opportunities to minor league ballparks from Baltimore, but I had only been to one. That was a stop out in Hagerstown for a Suns game on the way to a W. Virginia vacation. So with baseball unavailable for the break, but work leave to burn, I decided to correct that and took in the Baysox-Trenton Thunder game at Bowie.
Prince George's Stadium is a significant upgrade compared to Hagerstown's rickety antique Municipal Stadium. It is not noteworthy for style like Ripken Stadium or some of the Spring Training parks I've been to in Florida, but it is contemporary, clean and very comfortable. Great views, with a concourse behind that is open to the field. Nice place to spend 9.
The game initially looked to be a blowout. Nery had been scratched as the Baysox starter (don't know why, maybe his 10+ ERA?) in favor of Pedro Viola. Viola's fastball had good velocity, but it started out straight and he wasn't locating anything else. The result was 3 runs in the first 5 batters faced. But then he got settled, struck out the last 2 in the first. He would end up striking out 5 and walking two, only giving up those 3 runs in 4 innings. Baysox scratched out one answering run in the first. They got two more in the bottom of the fourth on a Caleb Joseph HR to take Viola out of the decision.
Then four quiet, scoreless innings. Prompted by James F's recent story, it gave me some time to look at SS Greg Miclat. He is a smart baserunner, so maybe he doesn't belong in this organization. He scratched out that first run single handedly. He singled then made a heads up read on the LF's throwing error to get to second. He tagged his way to third then got a great break on a grounder to short to produce the run. He would single again in the eighth, separated by 2 lost-looking strikeouts.
James F wrote "he still needs to work on his defense, particularly his throwing." God, yes. His arm looked awful. In the sixth, he had to go two steps to his right, field across his body and throw from almost on the grass. He twisted his whole body into the throw and it bounced so short it pulled the 1B off the bag. Next batter, same chance but the twisting throw lofts way over the 2Bs head and into right field, turning an inning ending double play into 2nd and 3rd with one out. Great defense by catcher Steve Lerud later in the inning kept Trenton from scoring.
The solid 3-3 battle turned really ugly in the bottom of the eighth. The source of the mess? Our old friend, the bunt. Miclat is on first with no outs. Playing for the one run (all they would need to win? Ha!), 2B Ryan Adams BUNTS INTO A DOUBLE PLAY. It hurt to watch.
Top of the ninth, the tie game is in the hands of Bob McCrory. Remember him? I attended his disastrous MLB debut back in 2008, so I'm very confident. He walks the first batter. Then with the second batter trying to bunt, McCrory walks him too. They are giving up an out and he can't even take it. He threatens to walk another bunt attempt, but on 3-2 the bunt goes down the third base side. McCrory falls off the other way, 3B Brandon Waring breaks back to cover third and nobody is anywhere near the ball. Based loaded, no outs after TWO CONSECUTIVE BUNT ATTEMPTS. Bowie can neither execute nor field the thing. Of course, the wheels fly in all directions next. RBI single, 3 RBI triple. Then Waring misses the third out by failing to tag a runner he had dead to rights. 3 more preventable runs follow. 10-3 Thunder.
Waring came up in the bottom of the ninth and helped to clear his name with a 2 run homer. What a shot! Off the top of the scoreboard in left-center. But that was it for the comeback attempt. The final was 10-5. It could have been more fun toward the end, but it sure beat a day at the office. I also rediscovered the joy of keeping score. If, like me, you used to do this religiously as a kid but stopped, try it again. It really keeps you in the game.
Some more pics. Warm ups. "The Oriole Way"
Bradon Waring loads up:
Catcher Caleb Joseph playing left field.
Pedro Viola delivers, with Miclat and Joseph behind him: