In a match-up of the two most winningest franchises in league history, the Barons and A’s squared off in a semi-finals game that would determine who advanced to the Championship Series; the game did not disappoint!
Long-time Barons lefty, S. Nelson, took to the mound for the Home team and the Visiting A’s countered with D. Cruz. The Barons took a lead in the bottom of the 1st off a McEnhimer single, and Nelson worked a smooth two innings, but in the bottom of the 2nd, the skies opened up for a 10-minute period of moderate rain. Both teams were quick to tarp the field, and after a 25-minute rain delay (and some efficient field maintenance) play resumed. In the top of the 4th, the A’s rallied to tie the game when Bryner singled to left, driving in Omeir. With the bases loaded and one out, Nelson could not continue due to a popped blister and was relieved by Yee who secured two straight outs to quell the A’s rally. The Barons answered quickly when McEnhimer blasted a ball over the right field fence, giving the Barons a 1-run lead after 4 innings. In the top of the 5th, the A’s loaded the bases once again and tied the game when Z. Bright walked, driving in Omeir. The next batter worked a 3-1 count, but Yee induced a lazy pop fly to 1st to end the inning, minimizing the damage. In the top of the 6th, Barons turned to reliever, Rivenbark, who quickly secured two outs, but allowed the next 2 batters to reach base. The 3rd batter of the inning hit a shot to 3rd base that was knocked down by Taran, which prevented the runner at 2nd from scoring. With the bases loaded, the A’s seemed poised to finally capitalize on a big inning when Rivenbark went down 3-0 in the count to A’s slugger, Garboczi. Somehow, someway, Rivenbark rallied and secured 3 straight strikes to get out of the jam. In the bottom of the inning, the Barons finally got some base runners to load the bases. On an 0-2 count, Shoenfeld hit a slow roller to the right side of the infield to drive in G. Ortiz. A’s reliever, Bryner, had his own rally as he induced a slow roller to 2nd to end the Barons chance to get more runs. In the top of the 7th, the Barons turned to McClure in relief, who was rudely greeted by an Omeir double down the line and a Bryner single. With the A’s once again loading the bases, the Barons secured a force out at home, a strikeout and a popfly to end the A’s threat. In the 8th, the A’s once again rallied to put baserunners in scoring position, but McClure emptied the tank, K’ing 2 and inducing a ground ball to end the inning. In the bottom of the 8th, the Barons could only muster a few foul tips off A’s reliever, Bright, who worked a quick and clean inning. In the top of the 9th, the Barons sent season-long Ace, Sawyer to close the door. Sawyer, coming off pitching 7 innings in the 100+ degree weather the previous day, was on fumes but took the challenge head-on. In the Barons only clean inning of the night, Sawyer went 1-2-3 to secure the Barons birth into the Championship series. What a game!
The A’s pitching was effective throughout the game, allowing only 4 Barons hits and 3 runs (2 earned), but on this night, the Barons squeezed by with big pitching moments and key defensive plays that squashed what seemed to be inventible A’s rallies. Omeir and Bryner had big days at the plate for the A’s, getting 3 doubles 2 singles and an RBI between them. McEnhimer went 2-2 with 2 RBI to pace the Barons, Rivenbark picked up the Win and Sawyer the Save. The Barons advance to the Championship Series for a rematch of last year’s series with the Arlington Mallards. Game #1 is Wednesday July 24th at Lake Braddock SS, 8pm.