By Chris Damond
The Aces opened Tuesday night’s game against the D.C. Grays with three straight hits and never looked back, as they dominated D.C., 9-1, at Frank Mann Field for their fourth win in a row – Alexandria’s largest winning streak this season.
In its last two meetings, D.C. (6-12) beat Alexandria (11-5) by a combined 15 runs, but the Aces changed the narrative on Tuesday with a beatdown of their own.
As always, Alexandria’s offense stayed hot, recording 10 hits for the second game in a row. However, it was the defense that really stepped up.
While Alexandria jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead through three, starting pitcher Britt Yount (George Mason) made sure to hold D.C. In six innings, he struck out six and allowed just one run, picking up the win.
“Fastball was really working,” Yount said. “I felt like the velocity was a little bit off, but I had a lot of movement, and the changeup was working really well too.”
The right-hander from Stafford, Va., had two 1-2-3 innings, including a stellar fifth, where he needed only nine pitches to retire the side. His efficiency allowed him to stay in longer, and Alexandria only used two pitchers throughout the game, as Joe Shapiro (Western Michigan) pitched three innings of shutout baseball to seal the deal.
It feels great, had a lot of help defensively,” said Yount after the win. “A lot of guys making great plays, and then Shapiro came in and shut it down. That’s huge, leaves a lot of pitching for the rest of the week.”
Crucial to Yount’s success was his excellent fielding. He was sharp all night with several heads-up plays. He bolted to record the out at first after D.C. hit a ball that took first baseman Dylan Koontz (Campbell) out of position early in the game. In the fourth, Yount redeemed himself after throwing a wild pitch with a runner at third by rushing home and tagging him out after a beautiful throw from catcher Jacob Friend (Davidson).
Alexandria scored a combined 33 runs in its past three wins, and it carried that momentum right into Tuesday’s contest, as the Aces set the tone with a three-run first inning. Leadoff hitter Eddie Hacopian (Maryland) bunted a ball that stalled in the infield grass, giving him enough time to reach first. Adam Tellier (Ball State) singled the next at-bat, and Dylan Koontz drove both runners in with a triple to right, before scoring on the next play after JT Carter’s (Coastal Alabama South) sacrifice fly.
Koontz has been phenomenal on offense all year. The Huntersville, North Carolina native leads Alexandria with 12 RBI and added three more on Tuesday. Koontz followed his first inning triple with a solo homer in the third that sailed into the road past right field.
With Alexandria’s defense locked in, the Aces pulled away for good after a five-run fifth, which was highlighted by a three-run homer to left field by Hacopian that just stayed fair. Alexandria hit four straight singles in the inning and went through its entire lineup. Up 9-1 after five, that score held for the rest of the game.
Nick Fletcher was tagged with the loss.
The Aces are back at Frank Mann Field tomorrow against the Metropolitan Braves. First pitch is at 6:30.