By Dylan Reffe
The Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts’ comeback fell just short on Friday night, and the Rockville Express salvaged a split of the doubleheader at Blair Stadium.
The evening began with the resumption of a suspended game that originally started almost two weeks ago. The Express led the T-Bolts 2-1 in the sixth inning on June 15 when the game was suspended due to rain. The teams agreed to finish the suspended game in seven innings, and then start the originally scheduled, nine inning game.
The T-Bolts got things rolling quickly in the resumed game, with an all-important two-run sixth inning (the first inning played) to take the 3-2 lead. Steven Paredes (Lindsey Wilson) played the role of T-Bolt hero, driving in both Nick Spadafino (Delaware) and Ben Kocher (Belmont) with his frozen rope of a two-out RBI single.
“We talk about our approach at the plate before and after most games,” said T-Bolts Head Coach Doug Remer. “We had a great approach in the first game, didn’t try to do too much, but went up there swinging and good things happened.”
Spadafino, who entered the game as the T-Bolt first baseman, came in to pitch a scoreless bottom of the sixth inning, and Connor Tagg (Case Western Reserve) pitched a perfect seventh inning to earn his fifth save of the summer.
The second game started much like the first, with lots of firepower, the opposite of what T-Bolt fans have come to expect when their ace En-Sih Huang (National Taiwan UPES) takes the mound.
The Express got on the board with an unearned run in the first inning, and tacked on two more in the second. Coach Remer visited the mound, along with En-Sih’s interpreter, and Huang settled down nicely.
In the meantime, the T-Bolts added two runs of their own in the first inning, and finally tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Spadafino continued his hot hitting ways. The T-Bolt first baseman brought home Hunter Hope (Tulane) with a much needed two-out RBI double, and Hope’s run tied the game at three.
The score remained tied until the eighth inning when Huang’s uncharacteristic night continued with a balk and a wild pitch in the same at-bat. The balk allowed Mark Grunberg (Towson) to score, and the subsequent wild pitch allowed Dakota Dean (Northwest Florida State) to score, giving the Express a 5-3 lead.
“En-Sih wasn’t as strong as he usually is, but we still made three or four errors behind him,” Remer said. “We just have to make the plays, and play our game.”
As always, the T-Bolts didn’t go down without a fight, and after scoring one run in the bottom of the eighth inning, a couple of local guys almost came through for the home team. AJ Lee (Maryland) led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, and advanced to third on Nick Dunn’s (Maryland) single. As all of the T-Bolts biggest crowd to date held its collective breath, Matt Rowland (Tulane) grounded into a game-ending double play and the two teams each came away with one victory on the day.
The doubleheader split left the Express on the wrong side of a 7-11 win-loss record, and in third place in the North Division. The split moved the T-Bolts to 10-8 for the summer, good for second place in the North Division, five games behind the Baltimore Redbirds (16-4).
The T-Bolts were scheduled to host the D.C. Grays on Saturday night, but the game has been postponed due to inclement weather. The game has been rescheduled for Tuesday, June 30, at 7 p.m.
The T-Bolts are next scheduled to play at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening at Blair Stadium, when they will host the Vienna River Dogs.