Down but Never Out: Alexandria Wins a Thriller over Redbirds

Alexandria Rallies Again for a Signature Victory

Towson, MD – by: Paul Fritschner – There is a sense around this Alexandria Aces (19-3) team that no matter how bad the score may look, the game truly is never over until the last out has been recorded. They never pack up and mail it in if they’re down – there’s a fight to this group that’s apparent in every game they play. The situation Friday night was no different: down by a run in the top of the ninth, the Aces knew they needed to score to at the very least force extras. Not only did they tie the game, but they eventually won it in the tenth inning.

In their first game after being ranked fourth in the country, Alexandria had a chance to make a statement against a Baltimore Redbirds (14-9) team that had won both previous matchups this year. The Aces brought a five game winning streak into the game and placed their 9-0 road record on the line. It was strenuous, but both streaks ended up staying intact.

A pitcher’s duel was expected at least early on, and that it was through the first four innings. Alexandria had their chances to score, stranding leadoff doubles in both the first and second innings, but it was Baltimore who eventually got on the board first. In the bottom of the second, an RBI single made it 1-0 Redbirds.

Alexandria had only scored twice against Baltimore in both of their previous games combined, but they matched that total in the top of the fifth. Eli Boggess (Morehead State) reached on an error to get the inning started, Todd Elwood (North Carolina Charlotte) also reached on an error, and Mason Nadeau (Penn State) bunted them into scoring position. Kam Smith (Northern Illinois) drove in the first run on a sacrifice fly and Max Schuemann (Eastern Michigan) followed that up with an RBI single to put the Aces in front. The Redbirds didn’t trail for long, tying the game at two in the bottom half of the inning.

Cooper Jeffers (High Point) threw 100 pitches in his start for Alexandria, and while he was charged with all four runs that Baltimore scored, he pitched effectively. It was in his last inning that he began to falter before being relieved. He gave up nine hits in five and a third innings, struck out five batters and walked two. On his 100th pitch, he gave up the go-ahead run and Dan Buratto (Santa Barbara CC) came on in relief. He gave up a run that ended up being charged to Jeffers, so after six innings, the Aces trailed 4-2.

The Aces had quite the scoring chance in the top of the seventh, with the bases loaded and only one out. While it may have seemed deflating to some after Baltimore completed a 1-2-3 double play to get out of the jam, Alexandria was not deterred. An inning later, Nick Slaughter (Houston) hit a solo home run, his first home run of the summer, to bring the Aces within a run.

That home run to make it a one-run game set the table for Max Schuemann in the ninth. He was hit by a pitch with one out, advanced to second on an errant throw from a pickoff attempt, and got to third on a pitch that skipped away from the catcher. With the infield in, Ray Zuberer (Western Kentucky) hit a ground ball right back up the middle that split the infield and tied the game.

Jacob Parker (Georgia Southern), who at times has struggled on the mound with his command, was absolutely lights-out. Pitching in the eighth and ninth innings, he scattered two hits while striking out five batters. In a tie game entering the tenth, Parker had done his job on the mound. Now it was time for the offense to come through.

Come through they did, with a little bit of help from Baltimore’s outfield. There were two outs in the top of the tenth, Mason Nadeau was at first after he singled, and Kam Smith was at the dish. Smith hit a routine fly ball to right field, but it hit off the end of the right fielder’s glove. Motoring around third, Nadeau scored with ease to put the Aces in front 5-4. With Smith at second, Schuemann doubled to the left field wall to put the Aces up by two and that was all they would need.

Dom Masullo (Morehead State) struck out two batters in the bottom of the tenth before getting a grounder to short to seal the victory.

With the win, the Aces remained two and a half games ahead of the Bethesda Big Train (17-6) for first place in the South division. The Redbirds dropped their third game in a row, but still hold the first place spot in the North.

The Aces will play three more games over the weekend before returning home on Monday. They will take on the Silver Spring-Takoma T-Bolts on Saturday before playing a doubleheader Sunday against the Herndon Braves. Can’t make it to Saturday’s game against the T-Bolts? We have you covered. The game, scheduled to begin at 7:00, will be on Aces Radio or you can follow along on the Aces on Twitter at @Alexandria_Aces