Eyes Are on the Postseason for the League-Leading Alexandria Aces

By Peter Rainey

June 12, 2023

It’s been almost a month since the Alexandria Aces have lost a baseball game (June 15th); in that time, instead, they’ve won 16 in a row. The Aces sport a league-best 23-2 record and have already clinched the South Division—still with a whole 10 games left on the schedule. With this division title secured, the Aces will, at minimum, receive a top-two seed in the Cal Ripken League Playoffs and a bye to the League Semifinal Series.

“The guys do a really good job of staying on each other and keeping focus,” Aces’ pitching coach Chris Rooney said. 

Last night, the Aces swept the visiting Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts (10-17) in a double-header at the Frank—the Aces’ second double-header sweep in a week’s time. The Aces shut out the Thunderbolts through 13 innings of action, a credit to stellar starting pitching from Aces’ Ryan Edmonds of George Mason University, who earned the win in game one, and Aces’ Ethan Houghtaling of Western Michigan University, who earned the win in game two. Both pitchers dealt five scoreless innings: Edmonds tallied six strikeouts, and Houghtaling tallied ten.

“I just tried to get ahead in counts because that usually leads to success,” Houghtaling said. “[Head] coach [Chris Berset] does a great job of just telling us one game at a time, one pitch at a time, and that [approach] will lead to wins, which it has.”

Tallying 11 runs across the evening’s two games, it wasn’t powerful bats that propelled the Aces’ offense—only one extra base hit was cracked in each game. Instead, it was savvy baserunning on the Aces’ part that led to a majority of their scores. Combining both games, the Aces stole a total of ten bases, and five Aces scored via wild pitch.

“What we’ve been focused on is playing hard,” Aces’ Tim Nicholson of George Washington University said. “Just keep running hard until someone stops you.” Nicholson boasts a season total of 12 stolen bases.

The Aces are currently six games ahead of the North Division-leading Bethesda Big Train (17-8)—the race for the number one seed will prove to hold heavy importance. Securing the number one seed would award home field advantage (1-1-1 best-of-three format) to the Aces in both the semifinal and championship series; it would also put the Olney Cropdusters, the only other winning record in the Cal Ripken League at 17-11, on the other side of the bracket. 

Clinching the number one seed would most likely pave a postseason route explained below: 

League Semifinal Series versus a number four seed who will likely have a losing record at season’s end (currently in the fourth seed are the Southern Maryland Senators, who are 12-17), with home field advantage awarded to the Aces in two out of three possible games (1-1-1 best-of-three).

League Championship Series versus the Bethesda Big Train or Olney Cropdusters, with home field advantage awarded to the Aces in two out of three possible games (1-1-1 best-of-three).

The Aces are back in action tonight, playing host to the D.C. Grays, who are currently sitting in the fifth seed with a 11-18 record. The Grays are battling for playoff position and lie just half a game ahead of the current number seven seed, the Metro South County Braves (10-18)—only the top six seeds qualify for the postseason. The first pitch from Frank Mann Field is slated for 6:30 P.M.