GAITHERSBURG — When Jordan Patterson was on the mound, there was nothing the Rockville Express could do.
The right-handed pitcher for the Gaithersburg Giants struck out 10 batters, as the Giants blew past the Express 9-4 on June 25 at Laytonia Field in Maryland Collegiate Baseball League action.
For a team that has struggled to consistently put up runs this season, Gathersburg’s offensive performance was a welcome relief for both Patterson and Head Coach Michael McMillen.
Patterson made easy work of the Rockville lineup, giving up only four hits and two walks in six scoreless innings.
“Yeah, that’s always helpful, obviously,” Patterson said of the run support he got from the offense. “They did a great job today hitting — I can’t ask for much more than that.”
With the win, Gaithersburg (7-6) has now won three of their last four games. The matchup with Rockville was never close, thanks to an awakened Giants lineup led by catcher Eric O’Brien, who went 3-for-4 with two triples and four RBIs.
The scoring began early, as Gaithersburg jumped on Rockville’s starting pitcher, Clayton Dwyer, putting up three runs in the first inning. In his first at-bat, O’Brien slapped a triple down the right-field line, giving the Giants an early 2-0 lead.
It was an early lead the Giants would never lose.
In the fourth, O’Brien again got the other way, hitting a single to right field, extending Gaithersburg’s lead to seven.
“Yeah, we came out, top of the first, we wanted to jump on them, get ahead — and we did that,” McMillen said. “We had a lot of quality at-bats, a lot of guys going the other way, hitting the ball hard on a line to the opposite field, right-center, right-field line, which is something we have struggled with. With our loses we have come up short with runners in scoring position, and tonight we made the most of our opportunities, for sure.”
For most of the game, the Express (8-5) had little answers.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, down seven, the Express showed their first sign of life. With runners on third and second with only one out, Rockville had their only opportunity to get to Patterson, but he worked himself out of the jam, striking out Garrett Nepert and getting Phillip Dao to fly out to right field to end the inning.
“With that, obviously, I’m not feeling as much pressure on the mound, so that’s definitely a lot of help coming from the team,” Patterson said.
Patterson caught the eye of Rockville Head Coach Rick Price, who said the Giants pitcher’s performance was the best he has seen by any opposing pitcher all season long.
“He had a lot of strikeouts,” Price said. “He was terrific. He’s probably the best pitcher we’ve seen this year, to be honest with you — he was tough.”
It was smooth sailing for Gaithersburg until the ninth.
While the Giants were able to extend their lead to nine with a Jack Lawrence single to center field and a Ryan Haddaway sacrifice fly at the top of the sixth inning, Rockville did not go away quietly.
After eight and two-thirds innings of a few hits, and few scoring opportunities, Rockville’s bats woke up as Gaithersburg pitcher Pat Gaalaas loaded the bases. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Nelson singled, giving Rockville its first two runs. Right after Gaalaas loaded the bases again, Ben Nardi doubled to right, adding another two runs, giving the last breath for Rockville before right-hander closed the door of any comeback.
“They hit the ball really well, off a good pitcher,” Price said. “We had a good pitcher out there too; they just hit the ball really well today.”