By Peter Rainey
The Cal Ripken League-leading Alexandria Aces (20-2) entered Saturday night on an 11 game winning streak. After consecutive rainouts, the team returned to action, facing arguably their greatest test yet—a double-header versus the third-place Olney Cropdusters (15-10). With any double-header, especially in the evening, it’s easy to let focus slip and settle for a split, but after taking game one with a 5-1 final, the Aces kept their foot fully on the gas, matching their run total from game one in the first inning of game two, jumping out to a healthy 5-0 lead, which they would not relinquish. The Aces swept the two-game set versus the Cropdusters, and the win streak is now at 13.
“Any time you can win two in a double-header, it’s pretty special,” Aces head coach Chris Berset said. “It’s especially hard to do against such a great team in [the] Olney [Cropdusters].”
Combining both games, Aces’ Nick Gregory of Ball State University led all hitters with 4 RBIs.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit lately; in the first half of the season, I was just trying to find something I could handle,” Gregory said. “A couple things went my way [last night] . . . I put some good swings on it, and after that, you can’t really do anything about it.” Gregory recorded hits in four of his six at-bats of the evening.
The Aces’ starting pitching proved stellar in both games; the Seton Hall tandem of Anthony Ehly and Ryan Reich combined for nine innings and no earned runs across both games. Reich, the game two starter, dealt five innings without surrendering a hit; he also tallied nine strikeouts.
“The offense really helped me out . . . putting up five in the first inning . . . it made me comfortable on the mound,” Reich said. “We’ve all been working really hard, and it’s showing.” Reich was relieved in the sixth inning, and the no-hitter at hand was broken up two innings shy of the finish line—double-headers in the Cal Ripken League play only seven innings.
“It was not [my decision to exit the game], but it was the right decision,” Reich said.
The Aces return to action tomorrow night with an away matchup versus the Metro South County Braves (10-16). Tonight, the Aces were slated to send 15 players, a league-high, to Olney, Maryland, for the Cal Ripken League All-Star Game—unfortunately, tonight’s game has been canceled due to thunderstorms.
“These kids deserve [to be named All-Stars],” Berset said. “I’m really, really proud of them. I’m proud of their effort, and everything they do.”
The Aces’ 15 honorees are listed below in alphabetical order:
Sam Belliveau, Pitcher — Davidson — 2.31 ERA
Anthony Ehly, Pitcher — Seton Hall — 4-0, 2.88 ERA, 28 SO
Michael Gillen, Pitcher — Seton Hall — 3-0, 3 SV, 3.00 ERA
RJ Hamilton, Infielder — Vanderbilt — .289 AVG, 1 HR, 11 RBI
Ethan Houghtaling, Pitcher — Western Michigan — 2-0, 3.60 ERA, 26 SO
Cameron Keshock, Pitcher — Auburn — 1 SV, 1.92 ERA
Thomas Lamar, Pitcher — Lehigh — 2-0, 2.63 ERA
Gavin Miller, Infielder — Auburn — .289 AVG, 17 RBI
Tim Nicholson, Catcher — George Washington — .358 AVG, 14 RBI
Matt Ossenfort, Infielder — Vanderbilt — .328 AVG, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Jonah Oster, Infielder — Campbell — .314 AVG, 16 RBI
Ryan Reich, Pitcher — Seton Hall — 3-0, 2.59 ERA, 33 SO
Cory Taylor, Infielder — Eastern Michigan — .364 AVG, 4 HR, 17 RBI
Alex Wade, Outfielder — Auburn — .263 AVG, 15 RBI
Asa Wilson, Catcher — Pennsylvania — .273 AVG