By Chris Damond
Friday was one of the most special games this year – Alexandria Little League Night. Kids from all around the city wore their baseball jerseys and gloves, playing catch with one another and feeding themselves groundballs off walls. Oh, and they also saw the Alexandria Aces play their most complete game of the season, as they dominated the second-place Gaithersburg Giants, 8-1, in 90-degree heat at Frank Mann Field.
“The boys were efficient tonight,” manager Chris Berset said. “Sasha [Kamenjasevic] on the mound gave us a bump, shutting them down in the first four [innings], and then let our swings go to work. Our hitters did an outstanding job.”
After an 11-4 loss to the Giants just last week, the Aces showed their growth on Friday night. They cut out the careless mistakes, recording no errors, and kept the ball in the zone, walking just five batters.
“Our chemistry is outstanding,” manager Chris Berset said. The boys are coming together … When we play our game, it’s hard to beat us, so we just got to stay and the course.”
The first three innings were a pitcher’s duel, with Matt Wolfe’s (Vanderbilt) second inning homer the lone run.
Canadien Sasha Kamenjasevic (University of Fraser Valley), one of four international players on Alexandria, was phenomenal on the mound. He struck out two and only allowed one run in four innings. Gaithersburg couldn’t make hard contact on his pitches and registered just three hits.
Most of the Giants were able to put the ball in play, though, but Alexandria’s fielding was superb. In the second, when Gaithersburg had runners on first and second, Brendan Harrity caught a line out and flipped the ball to second base for a beautiful double play that got Alexandria out of the inning.
Later in the seventh, Dylan Koontz (Campbell) chased a ball towards the left field line and dove for a spectacular catch to save a possible hit.
“Defense wins championships, and our pitchers throw strikes. They got to get three or four hits in a row [to score off us]” manager Chris Berset said. “But our defense was outstanding, lights out. That’s the expectation.”
On offense, the Aces recorded 11 hits. Matt Wolfe went three for four and led the team with three RBI. Adam Tellier (Ball State) continued his stellar play too, getting on base four times. He stole his sixth base of the season as well, the most on the team.
After a fairly quiet three innings, the Aces exploded for four runs in the fourth to go up 5-0. Wolfe drove in Tellier from third and miraculously scored off Cade Sullivan’s (Western Michigan) double in the next at-bat. At first, Wolfe seemed out by a mile, but the Giant’s catcher lost the ball when applying the tag, causing the Vanderbilt commit to successfully lunge for home plate. Michael Eze (Georgetown) then hit the game’s only triple to score both Sullivan and Connor Offshack (Elon), who reached base after getting hit by a pitch.
Ryan Osinski (Bucknell) replaced Kamenjasevic, who received much applause upon his exit, in the fifth and picked up the win. He pitched three innings of shutout baseball and gave up one hit off 11 batters faced. Andrew Neff was tagged with the loss.
The later innings saw Alexandria pull away even further. Sullivan hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Friend in the seventh, and Gaithersburg walked two Aces with the bases loaded in the eighth, scoring Mike Eze and Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) to go up 8-1.
Gaithersburg scored its only run in the fifth inning on a fielder’s choice.
With the victory, Alexandria is now tied for second place in the standings with the Giants.
The Aces will be back at Frank Mann Field tomorrow against the Metropolitan Braves, before facing the D.C. Grays in Alexandria on Father’s Day. First pitch is at 6:30 for both games.