BOWIE – As the night grew colder, so did the Bowie Baysox bats on April 17.
After taking an early lead, the Baysox were unable to keep up with the visitors. Meanwhile, the Erie Seawolves pounded runs in with two three-run innings to secure an 8-3 win and swept Bowie in their three-game series.
The loss was the Baysox’s sixth during their seven-game homestand. Bowie (3-10) entered the series with the Seawolves (7-3), looking to build confidence following their 11th inning victory over Harrisburg Senators on April 14.
“It’s been tough,” Baysox Manager Buck Britton said. “But we have a long way to go in the season; We have to put in the work, and no one is panicking on these guys. We have a long way to go, and we believe in these guys and continue to put in the work.”
Right-hander Marcos Molina went to work right away against Erie batters, forcing two fly outs and striking out second baseman Kody Eaves to end the top of the first inning. The Baysox would take advantage of a walk to score as outfielder Ademar Rifaela ripped a line drive into the right-field wall. Bowie’s Yusniel Díaz, who was standing at first base, ran all the way home, giving the home team the early one-run lead.
Bowie’s bats would struggle against Erie right-hander Matt Manning as he only allowed four hits and two earned runs. The Sacramento, California native threw 88 pitches, and 62 of them were strikes, including eight strikeouts. It quickly turned into a pitcher’s duel as Molina began mowing down Erie batters as well, finishing his time on the mound with four strikeouts.
The Seawolves finally got on the board on the top of the third as infielder Isaac Paredes fired a single into left field in a bases-loaded situation, driving in a run. Eaves would immediately follow up with a sacrifice fly play to center field to add another run and give Erie the lead.
“I had to make sure to attack that strike zone when I could and make sure I was ahead of the count at all times after those hits,” Molina said of the third inning. “Getting low and in the zone worked to end the inning.”
Bowie responded in the bottom of fourth, with Rifaela connecting with his second double of the game. One batter later, shortstop Jesmuel Valentín would hit a single over the Erie infield, giving his teammate enough time to run home and tie the game. It would be the closest the Baysox would get to take back their early advantage.
“I’ve been working really hard since the offseason to make sure I get the ball in play,” Rifaela said of his play. “I know I have talent but I need to make sure it shows and I am consistent.”
“Rafi has been putting in the work, and it is showing up on the field,” Britton said of Rifaela’s batting performance, going two-for-four against Erie. “He had a pretty good homestand and Rafi is the kind of guy that has the ability. He’s got work to do, but he’s got the ability if he continues to put in the work and the effort.”
The pitching duel would slowly end in the fifth as Molina struck out Eaves, his final batter before being pulled by Britton due to a pitch count. The Seawolves player argued with the umpire about the strike call and was immediately ejected.
On the other side, Manning grounded out a Bowie batter and strikeout outfielder Ryan McKenna before getting pulled.
Left-hander Zach Muckenhirn was looking to replicate Molina’s success but quickly allowed four hits, threw a wild pitch and allowed three runs to score. Chace Numata’s RBI single over Rylan Bannon brought in two runs as Erie took a 5-2 heading to the seventh. Bowie took advantage of a wild pitch by Nolan Blackwood to drive in their own run in the bottom of the inning, reducing their deficit to two runs.
However, Erie continued their offensive success as Numata connected with a sacrifice fly to drive in a run in the top of the eighth. One battle later, with the bases loaded, Cam Gibson powered through an RBI single into right field to drive in Erie’s seventh run. A bases-loaded walk extended the Seawolves’ lead to eight as Bowie came to bat.
However, the Baysox were unable to connect with any runs in their final two innings and striking out four times.
In fact, three Bowie batters finished the game striking out three times each when they went up to bat. Britton said the strikeouts, combined with other problems seen throughout the game, will be evaluated and improved upon as the season progresses.
“I understand that they are trying to do the best they can and if the hits do not come, they don’t come,” Molina said. “But we have to keep fighting, and I feel great playing for this team; these are great teammates, and everything is good. We just have to keep working.”
Things do not get easier for Bowie as they travel to Akron for a three-game series before playing at Erie. They return home April 25 for a six-game homestand against Akron and Richmond to close out the month of April.