GAITHERSBURG — On the first day of July, there were many doubleheaders in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, and one of them involved the Gaithersburg Giants (12-12) hosting the DC Grays (12-13) at Criswell Automotive Field at Kelley Park. Both games had opposite results; the Giants dominated the first game 9-1, while the Grays put up nine runs of their own in the second game for a 9-4 victory.
In Game One, the first four-and-a-half innings went without a single run scored. That is until Gaithersburg outfielder Nick Yovetich reached on a throwing error, and fellow outfielder Ryan Brown scored.
After that, it was all Giants, all the time, as key RBIs from catcher Jordan Landel, designated hitter Saul Garza, and third baseman Sam Bertelson, a double-steal that included a run from Garza, and a two-run home run from Yovetich were the highlights of the Gaithersburg offense.
Landel, a rising sophomore at Texas, finished part one of the doubleheader 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs and a run.
“It felt good to kind of get things going again,” Landel said. “I haven’t been super-satisfied with my bat, so it felt good to get some barrels going there up the middle, and then I felt like I had a good night behind the plate, really reduced my passed balls, no runners were going anywhere tonight.”
But it wasn’t just the hitting that propelled the Giants to victory, pitcher Travis Craven pitched very well, as he went six scoreless innings and struck out four DC batters.
The seven-inning Game Two also involved dominant hitting, except it was from the other team. In the top of the second, the Grays got things going with a two-run home run from first baseman Cory Moore.
However, in the next frame, the Giants kept it close when second baseman Joey Goodwin launched an RBI double into center field and drove in outfielder Ryan Shinn to cut the deficit to 2-1.
But DC responded by putting up seven unanswered runs. Highlights included a two-RBI double from shortstop Brian Dempsey, a two-RBI ground rule double from catcher Ryan Shaw, a two-RBI single from outfielder Jahleel Sewer, and a steal at third-turned unearned run on an error by the catcher from Sewer.
Grays manager Reggie Terry felt it was easier in the second game for his team to get some quality hits. “The strike zone was a little difficult to adjust to, no excuses,” Terry said. “But a more consistent strike zone helps hitters.”
Despite three late runs from Giants, the comeback fell short as DC hung on for the victory. Though Gaithersburg manager Jeff Rabberman was proud of the way his team hit on the day.
“We struggled the last game-and-a-half offensively,” Rabberman said, “and it was good to see us get back on track. We stringed some good at-bats together. I thought we did a better job at that today, and that was good to see.”
Nick Pantos, the CRCBL leader in strikeouts who pitched in the second game, had himself a rough performance, as he gave up four hits and four runs in five innings.
“Sometimes you don’t come out and you don’t have your best stuff, and he wasn’t as sharp tonight,” Rabberman said. “But I thought he got through it. I think he’d obviously like to have two pitches back. If he has two pitches back, he doesn’t give up any runs.”
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