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Giants open up first Cal Ripken season with win

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Published on: Thursday, June 13, 2013

By Holden Wilen

GAITHERSBURG –Though it was not how they expected it to happen, the Gaithersburg Giants sent their fans home happy on Friday with a 6-5 win against the Alexandria Aces in the 10th inning on a walk-off hit-by-pitch by to collect their first win in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.

The Giants (1-1) were slated to play their home opener at Criswell Automotive Field at Kelley Park on Friday, but a storm postponed the game. While winning on a hit by pitch was not how he expected to score the winning run, head coach Jeff Rabberman said he was happy his team was able to get into the win column.

“I don’t know if words can describe it,” Rabberman said. “In a lot of ways it is emotional. So much hard work has gone into this and this team, and to get number one and get it pretty soon was really nice.”

The Giants battled through adversity all game long, as the Aces (0-2) got the leadoff batter on base in six of the 10 innings and stranded 13 runners on bases.

Starting pitcher Kyle Colgain escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning and minimized the damage in the second inning after loading the bases again but allowing only two runs. In total, Colgain had a no-decision and pitched six innings, gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits and struck out seven.

With the score tied at 3-3 at in the seventh inning, Gaithersburg rallied to take the lead. After getting the leadoff batter to fly out, Aces relief pitcher Jordan Chudacoff walked the next two hitters. The next hitter flew out as well to bring up first baseman and cleanup hitter Brandon Grove, who had doubled earlier in the third inning. Grove smashed a first-pitch fastball off the wall in right-center field to bring home both runners and give the Giants a 5-3 lead.

“The guy before me got a first-pitch fastball and he flew out, so I was thinking I would probably get a first-pitch fastball too,” Grove said. “It was right down the middle and I just put a good swing on it.”

Grove finished the game 2-4 with two doubles and three runs batted in.

In the ninth inning, Giants closer Kyle Hamby came in to get the save but could not get the job done. Hamby gave up three hits and walked one batter in the inning, allowing the Aces to score two runs to send the game to extra innings.

In the 10th inning, the Giants brought Robin Mowatt out of the bullpen. After giving up an infield single to the nine-hole hitter, Mowatt sent the next three batters down, setting the stage for the victory.

Giants shortstop Ryan McGuigan led off the bottom of the 10th with a bloop hit down the right-field line off Aces pitcher Tyler Fries. The next batter, backup catcher Lane Farmer, bunted a ball down the first base line. The ball appeared to be heading foul, so the Aces fielders let it continue rolling, but it rolled into fair territory to give the Giants another base hit. Fries lost his command and walked the next hitter to load the bases for Giants right-fielder Joe Dorsey. The Giants scored the winning run when Fries hit Dorsey with the first pitch.

“As long as those runners advanced and we scored a run, that is all I cared about,” said Rabberman, who had a cooler full of ice dumped on him after the game by some of the players.

For the Giants, the win is the beginning of what they hope is a successful inaugural season in the Cal Ripken League.

“It is a great feeling,” Rabberman said. “We battled through some adversity today and got out of a ton of jams. It feels awesome.”

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