By Chris Damond
The Alexandria Aces are rolling. They picked up their third straight win on Saturday night at Frank Mann Field, defeating the Metropolitan Braves, 10-3, with another great team effort. With the Giants’ loss to Bethesda, Alexandria moves into sole possession of second place in the Cal Ripken League standings.
“We’re playing the game hard and that’s what it comes down to,” manager Chris Berset said. “Our at-bats are great … we did an outstanding job on the mound tonight, they battled out there. They did a great job, we got the runs and some timely hits when we needed to.”
In the beginning of the season, either the Aces’ offense or the Aces’ defense showed up, but rarely both – – as seen in a 2-1 loss to Bethesda and a 23-20 victory over Metropolitan last Sunday. Now, the times are changing. Alexandria had 25 baserunners – nine hits, 13 walks, and three hit by pitches – against Metropolitan and did not record an error for the second straight game. Meanwhile, the Braves only mustered six hits off five Alexandria pitchers.
Alex Walsh (Lafayette) got the start and set the tone, allowing one run. Ramsey Collins (Uconn) picked up the win after replacing him in the fourth, and Corey Knauf (Wooster) gave up no hits in three innings of shutout baseball after entering in the fifth. Will Long (Cornell) and Caleb Neal (Xavier University or Louisiana) then sealed the deal.
“Each one of them answered the bell today, manager Chris Berset said about the Aces’ pitchers. “Very, very happy with them.”
Last time these teams met, they battled for over four hours in a game that saw 43 total runs. The Aces faced an eight-run deficit, but scored 10 unanswered, eventually taking down the Braves, 23-20, in a slugfest. Tonight was much less hectic and not nearly as close.
It was competitive early on, but Alexandria took a commanding lead in the fourth with a four-run inning. Deadlocked at two, Connor Offshack (Elon) bolted home from third base after a wild pitch to put the Aces up 3-2. Adam Tellier (Ball State), who continued his hot hitting with two hits and three RBI on Saturday night, smacked a single to bring in one more, which was followed by Dylan Koontz’s (Campbell) two-RBI double. Alexandria led 6-2 by the end of the fourth.
Metropolitan struck first, though, and scored two runs in the initial four frames. Alexandria scored its first run in the second, and the Vanderbilt commits worked together to add another moments later, as Matt Wolfe’s sacrifice fly brought in Cade Law.
The Aces kept pulling away, tacking on three runs in the sixth and one in the seventh to put Metropolitan away for good. Adam Tellier and Dylan Koontz each finished with a team-high three RBI.
Offshack dominated on offense with three extra base hits, which included a crowd-pleasing triple in the eighth, as the Aces’ dugout loudly cheered after he reached third.
Michael Nastro received the loss for the Braves.
Next up, Alexandria returns to Frank Mann Field on Sunday night to face the D.C. Grays on Father’s Day. First pitch is set for 6:30.