BOWIE – The Bowie Baysox were on roll heading into their series finale against the Trenton Thunder on June 16. They accomplished seven straight victories including outscoring their New Jersey-based opponents 12-4 in the series’ first two games.
However, the Baysox were unable to find their offensive rhythm after surrendering their lead in the seventh inning. Despite right-hander Dean Kremer’s nine-strikeout performance, Bowie would fall to Trenton, 4-3, ending their winning streak.
Despite the loss, the clubhouse was not as down as in previous defeats. According to Manager Buck Britton, the Baysox (29-38) embraced recent success, especially now that their batting matches the same intensity as Bowie’s starting rotation.
“Today we may have lost but we battled and only lost by a run,” said designated hitter Ademar Rifaela, who recorded a team-high three hits, said. “We are united in the clubhouse and we are always looking to help each other out. Now that we’re winning again, relationships have gotten better. We are a family and we are enjoying this run we are on.”
Both starting pitchers, Bowie’s Kremer and Adonis Rosa from Trenton, kept the game scoreless for the opening 2 1/2 innings and only allowing a hit each. Bowie’s right-hander was looking for his second win of the season and struck out four batters he faced in the opening three innings.
Bowie’s bats slowly began to appeared at the bottom of the third. Following a walk and a single, outfielder Ryan McKenna hit a chopper for a force out, moving the runners to scoring position.
Right-fielder Yusniel Díaz capitalized for Bowie, darting an RBI double into left-center field. The hit cleared the bases, giving the Baysox a two-run advantage. Since returning from an assignment with the Frederick Keys, Díaz has shown his best offensive performances with Bowie since arriving at the ball club following the Manny Machado trade last season.
Including the series finale on Sunday, Díaz has 11 hits, has driven in 13 runners and connected with three home runs in 10 days. One of those homers, on June 12 against New Hampshire, was a walk-off two-run homer in the 10th inning to keep the winning streak alive.
“He has done great,” Britton said. “He and Keith Bodie, our hitting coach, have really gotten after it since he’s been back. He has been out there, every day, doing early hitting and stuff. Results are starting to show on the field and it is starting to give him some confidence and when confidence shows up for a hitter, it is a good thing.”
Bowie increased their lead in the fourth inning as first baseman Preston Palmeiro connected with a single into center field. Catcher Carlos Perez, who was sitting on second base, dashed all the way home for the home team’s third run of the afternoon. The Baysox failed to capitalize with two runners on base, with McKenna striking out to end the inning.
“You can’t always get those hits on those situations even if you get guys on early,” McKenna said. “That’s just how it goes but we’re going to try and execute on those opportunities and keep moving forward with the gameplan.”
Trenton (37-27) finally made it on the scoreboard with third baseman Mandy Alvarez crushing a ball into deep right field. The ball stayed inside of the foul pole for a solo home run for the Thunder’s first run of the game.
The visitors were more aggressive on Kremer in the sixth inning, starting with a single by outfielder Rashad Crawford. One batter later, shortstop Kyle Holder smacked a low, driven single into right field to send Crawford home, reducing Bowie’s lead to one run. Outfielder Ben Ruta followed up with a two-run home run to give Trenton a 4-3 lead.
After Ruta’s homer, Britton visited the mound to talk to his starting pitcher. He allowed Kremer to finish the inning, throwing two more strikeouts before being pulled before the start of the seventh.
Bowie was silenced offensively after the Thunder’s three runs in the sixth. Trenton made four pitching changes in the final four innings, including two in the eighth, leaving two Baysox runners, including the possible game-winner, stranded. Díaz had a chance for another late-inning comeback but instead grounded out to end the game with Bowie’s first loss in two weeks.
“It was just one of those ball games,” Britton said. “That’s baseball and that’s kind of the way that works out but we had a really good homestand. Everyone gave us a chance to win and that is all you can ask for.”
Despite the result, the players are confident that their positive run of momentum will continue as they prepare to hit the road. Bowie will travel for their next six games to Hartford and Harrisburg starting on June 18.