BOWIE – Aderlin Rodriguez believed he could be the hero.
After hitting two home runs earlier in the game, the Dominican Republic native was looking to get one more hit. With runners on the corners, Rodriguez knew one hit could help tie or win the game for the Bowie Baysox.
However, as a dark sky loomed over him, Rodriguez swung on a fastball, missed and stuck out, ending the game on a sour note.
“I wanted to keep the rally going and I knew we had two outs,” the infielder said in Spanish. “Unfortunately, I struck out, but I have to focus on the next game.”
Despite Rodriguez's two homerun performance, the Baysox allowed five runs in three innings as the Altoona Curve won 5-3 at Prince George's Stadium in front of 2,893 fans. The loss ended Bowie's bid for a four-game sweep of the Curve and their four-game home winning streak.
As winds whipped and scattered rain fell, the Curve struck early in the second inning with an RBI double from infielder Wyatt Mathisen and an RBI single by shortstop Pablo Reyes. Anderson Feliz, who finished 2-for-5 with two RBI, then crushed a hit to left center field for the two-run home run, increasing the Curve's lead to five in the third inning.
It was a tough day for starting pitcher David Hess (8-6), who battled through the tough Curve hitting all day. He managed to escape the fifth inning with two runners left on base, including one in scoring position. Right fielder Michael Suchy struck out, giving Hess his fifth strikeout of the game before he was pulled prior to the sixth inning.
Hess finished the game allowing 10 hits. Baysox Manager Gary Kendall defended keeping Hess in past the fourth, citing the need for all his starting pitchers to get game experience fighting through a tough game-time situation.
“That’s one thing that sometimes, fans don’t understand. You got a guy out there whose won eight or nine ballgames for you and he’s given up a couple of runs and he still had pitches left and you got to go out there and let him pitch,” Kendall said. “There are times you have to go get him and there are times where you leave him out there and see what they can do.”
Bowie’s offense didn't provide any relief either as it went hitless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Steve Wilkerson and outfielder Cedric Mullins recorded back-to-back hits off of Altoona starting pitcher J.T. Brubaker.
Despite loading up the bases, Bowie was unable to capitalize, ending the inning with two pop-up outs. Bowie left the bases loaded twice, ending the game with 11 runners left on base.
“We left too many guys on base,” Kendall said. “We didn’t pitch well, we stranded too many runners, and we didn’t defend too well, in my opinion. Just wasn’t a good day for us, but we stayed in there until the last pitch.”
One saving grace was the performance of Rodriguez, who is normally Bowie's third baseman, but played first base against Altoona. Two pitches into his at-bat in the sixth, Rodriguez smashed the ball over the left field scoreboard for a solo home run. Two innings later, the 25-year-old hit his second home run of the game, sending the ball over the right field wall above an outstretched Suchy.
“(Suchy) was close,” Rodriguez said. “When I hit it, I knew I hit it well. I felt like he did have a good chance at grabbing it, but thanks to God, I hit it good and it went over.”
Bowie (53-47) quickly boarded a bus after the game to play the Erie SeaWolves in a pivotal three-game series starting on July 24. Both teams sit atop the Western Division of the Eastern League standings, with Erie one game back of the first-place Baysox, leaving little room for error.
Kendall stressed the importance of getting over earlier results against Erie, who defeated Bowie in three of its four games in June.
“Erie is a good club, probably the best club we play in this division, and they’ve had their way with us, in my opinion, this year,” Kendall said. “We’re going to have to play mistake-free baseball and pitch, hit and catch the ball. When you pitch and play defense, you are in a lot of ballgames. And this team is going to hit overall so I look forward to a good series in Erie.”