Aces start stretch run with 6-3 win
BETHESDA, MD – by Lukas Favale – With just over two weeks left in the season, and the with the toughest stretch off the year starting on Monday night every game is important for the Aces playoffs chances. The Aces started the stretch of six straight games against the top 4 teams in the league with a 6-3 win over the Bethesda Big Train Monday night.
Backed by a strong pitching performance by Ronnie Glenn and a big night at the plate from Adam Forrer, the Aces were able to slip past the Big Train. The key inning was the top of the 4th, with the Aces trailing 2-0.
Chris Sweeney started the inning with a ground ball to the shortstop Brennan Middleton, who threw the ball high to first and Sweeney was just able to reach safely ahead off the swipe tag from first baseman Adam Barry. Sweeney hit his head as he was knocked to the ground, but he would stay in the game. Jacob Stockton followed that with a walk and Kevin Francke singled into left to load the bases with no outs.
After Keith Picconi lined out to second, Nick Octavi hit a long sacrifice fly to the wall which scored Sweeney to pull the Aces within 2-1. Then AJ Koscelansky battled a long at bat before walking to re-load the bases. Adam Forrer came through with a first pitch swinging hard ground ball just inside the first base bag and down the left field line. All three runners scored as Forrer raced to third with a bases clearing triple to put the Aces ahead 4-2.
Ronnie Glenn had relatively easy innings in the 4th, 5th, and 6th, but ran into trouble in the 7th, still clinging to a 4-2 lead. After a single and fielders choice, Brennan Middleton doubled into left field to make it second and third with one out for the top of the order. On the first pitch, Michael Bass then hit a foul pop up down the right field line. First baseman Chris Sweeney made an over-the-shoulder grab to put away Bass then spun and threw a one-hopper to the plate to keep Zach Randolph at the third. A walk loaded the bases for the middle of the order, but Glenn struck out Brendan Hendriks to end the threat and his night.
In the 8th, the Big Train were able to scratch a run across against Shelby Dixon. With one out, Colin Kish hit a long fly ball to left field and ball, Jacob Stockton, and wall all met at the same point, with Stockton colliding with the fence and being knocked down as the ball bounced off the wall. Kish ended up at second with a double. He would come around to score on Avondre Bollar’s RBI single.
In the 9th, the Aces added some much needed insurance to their 4-3 lead. Back-to-back walks by Nick Octavi and AJ Koscelansky opened the inning, then Adam Forrer, who came up to the plate needing a home run for a cycle, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners. The next hitter, Anthony Papio, grounded a single through a drawn in infield to score both men to give the Aces a 6-3 cushion.
In the bottom of the ninth, Nick Marics worked into some trouble as well, by walking three men. But Marics was able to navigate through the middle of the lineup, with a strikeout of Brendan Hendriks, a walk to Hunter Renfroe which loaded the bases with two outs, and a fly out to by Colin Kish to end the game.
The only other runs scored by the Big Train came in the 2nd and 3rd. In the 2nd, Avondre Bollar hit a two out double off the top of the wall in center field to score Hunter Renfroe and put the Big Train up 1-0. Then in the 3rd, Brennan Middleton hit a solo home run to left for a 2-0 lead, but that was all the Big Train would score against Glenn. They threatened for more in the 3rd, but Chris Sweeney made a diving stop on a ground ball down the first base line to end the inning.
With the win, the Aces are back at .500 at 16-16. They remained in 5th place in the league, just ahead of the Youse’s Orioles and DC Grays, both of whom won on Monday night. The Aces have an off day Tuesday before returning to Bethesda to finish off the season series with the Big Train at 7:30. Coverage can again be heard on the Aces Radio Network.
Notes: W – Ronnie Glenn (2-1); L – Jon Carlson (1-1); S – Nick Marics (5); Box Score