GAITHERSBURG — One night after clinching a playoff spot, the Gaithersburg Giants (20-17) returned home to host division rival Rockville Express (16-20). The Giants held a 3-1 lead for three-and-a-half innings, until that changed in the top of the seventh when the Express tied it up and then won 9-7 in an extra-innings thriller Sunday night.
Rockville got on the board first in the top of the second when third baseman Livian Reinoso doubled to left field and drove in outfielder Matt Kruszka.
However, Gaithersburg answered in the bottom of the third with three runs courtesy of Joey Goodwin’s run on an error, and a two-RBI double by designated hitter Saul Garza.
The game went without a score for the next three innings. But in the top of the seventh, the Express tied it up at 3-3 with back-to-back RBI doubles from shortstop David Harding and outfielder Charles Kozorofsky.
“We’ve been hitting the ball real well all night long,” said Express manager Rick Price.
With two outs in the top of the ninth, Rockville outfielder Billy Godrick singled to left field and drove in Harding for the go-ahead run for the 4-3 lead.
But the Giants are known for not going down without a fight, as they tied it up at 4-4 when Goodwin the first baseman launched an RBI double to right field and sent home third baseman Sam Bertelson and also sent the game to extra innings.
The Express scored five runs in the top of the 10th. They first broke the tie when first baseman Dayan Reinoso got walked with the bases loaded. Then, his brother Livian extended the lead with a two-RBI double that drove in Kruszka and designated hitter Jhao-Yuan Jhang, which followed with Harding hitting a two-RBI single that drove in the two Reinoso brothers.
“It’s a good feeling because I almost hit the home run,” said Livian, “And we also scored some runs, which gave us an opportunity to win the game today.” Livian went 2-for-5 at the plate as he drove in three runs and scored a run himself.
Despite putting up three runs, including instances where they could have tied it or won it on a grand-slam home run, in the bottom half of the 10th, the Giants were unable to complete the comeback.
“I think we’ve had this never-say-die attitude,” said Gaithersburg manager Jeff Rabberman. “The kids believe in themselves and each other, and I don’t think they ever think they’re going to lose a game until that last out is made and we have as many runs as the other team.”
Giants pitcher Jaret Bennett had pitched well, as he went 6.2 innings and struck out three batters despite giving up the lead in the top of the seventh.
“He got a couple pitches up,” Rabberman said. “I thought they scored off some balls tonight really well. They scored off those two ones that he missed. It happens. It’s baseball.”
In terms of the Cal Ripken League playoff seeding after this game, the Giants remain the No. 3 seed while the Express, who haven’t yet clinched a berth, hold on the No. 6 seed, as we could be in for a rematch in the play-in round.
“We’ve had good games with the Giants all year long,” Price said. “First we’ve got to get in the playoffs. That’s the main thing, so we need to win a few more games.”