BOWIE – For Erick Salcedo, it was all about the perfect timing.
With the game tied in the bottom of the 11th inning and the bases loaded awithnd two outs, the Venezuelan shortstop waiting for the right pitch to capitalize on to propel the Bowie Baysox to a victory.
Salcedo didn’t wait long, hitting the third pitch thrown by right-hander Montana DuRapau through the gap into right field, driving in the game-winning run.
After touching first base and before he could turn around, his teammates drenched him in a Gatorade bath.
“Just look for one pitch or hit the ball hard,” Salcedo said. “Anything close I got to swing. (DuRapau) threw the fastball in and I hit the ball well, and it went through.”
The extra-innings single was the final note on a solid offensive day for the Baysox, who finished with 16 hits and two home runs. Complete with nine combined strikeouts from three pitchers, the Baysox outlasted the first-place Altoona Curve, 7-6 on June 4, and took the three-game series in front of 3,526 at Prince George’s Stadium.
The Bowie offense struck first after a bases-loaded walk brought in a run. Third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez then drove a line drive to left field, bringing in two more runs to increase the lead to three. Salcedo, who finished 2-for-6 and two RBI, popped a single past first base to drive in the fourth run of the inning.
The early lead forced Altoona to make a pitching change before the end of the inning, removing lefty Brandon Waddell in favor of right-hander Austin Coley.
Bowie’s lead would be short-lived as Pablo Reyes’ single in the second inning brought in two Altoona runs. The Curve’s next batter, shortstop Kevin Newman, slapped a ball toward the center field wall for a double, driving home an extra run. A sacrifice fly before the end of the inning tied the game up, leaving Bowie Manager Gary Kendall to decide if he would yank starting pitcher Brandon Barker.
However, unlike his divisional opponents, losing the lead did not deter his confidence in Barker. Instead, the right-hander stayed in for five innings, allowing eight hits and five earned runs for the game.
“We’re all about trying to develop a starter, and he had pitches left, was crisp enough, and he hung in there,” Kendall said. “It just wasn’t his day as a starter.”
Despite his struggles, including giving up a solo home run to Jordan Luplow, Barker improved as the game progressed. He finished the day throwing 45 strikes on 78 pitches, three strikeouts and picked off Jin-De Jhang at first base early in the second inning.
Defensive plays helped the Baysox keep their opponents at bay, including a diving catch into the dirt by third basemen Stephen Wilkerson to get the final out of the third inning. Moments later, second baseman Adrian Marin made a leaping catch off a potential base hit and quickly threw Reyes out at first base for a double play to end the fourth.
Bowie outfielder Cedric Mullins provided relief with a solo shot to center field for his fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After Altoona scored a run to take back the lead, Bowie quickly tied the game thanks to Rodriguez, who finished 4-for-5 and three RBI. The Dominican first baseman capped off his impressive day with his team-leading ninth home run of the season and sent the game into extra innings.
Bowie had an opportunity to end the game in the 10th with two players on base, including catcher Glynn Davis on third. However, Marin grounded out to end the inning.
Wilkerson’s double toward the right field wall to start the bottom of the 11th excited the home crowd. Bowie outfielder Jay Gonzalez laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Wilkerson to third base. After striking out Austin Wynns, DuRapau walked the next two batters, loading up the bases and setting up Salcedo for the game-winning hit.
“(Altoona) is a good team, who we are fighting with for first place. They have a good offense with a pitching staff that is also very good,” Salcedo said. “So it was very important to get this win and to stay close to the top with a little more than a month before the All-Star break. It will be wonderful for us if we can get to that top position before then.”