GAITHERSBURG — The Alexandria Aces needed only one inning’s worth of runs on July 1.
Thanks in-part to a nine-run, offensive explosion in the second inning led by Tyler McKenzie, Jake Heilman and Maxwell Romero, the Aces defeated the Gaithersburg Giants 17-8, Monday night at Criswell Automotive Field at Kelley Park in Gaithersburg.
Alexandria improved to 9-14 on the season, while the Giants fell to a 12-13 record.
McKenzie, a rising freshman at Vanderbilt University, helped lead the offensive effort, going 3-4, with four RBIs. Heilman drove in three runners while Adam Schwartz pitched four innings, giving up only one earned run for the Aces.
“They came out, and they had some great at-bats up there, and they were able to string a big inning together and kind of retake the momentum there, so I mean, it’s a great job from our guys,” said Aces Head Coach Chris Berset.
The offensive explosion began early. Down 3-1 in the top of the third inning, Alexandria promptly scored nine runs off eight hits on Gaithersburg starter Zach Adams. McKenzie led off the inning with an infield single, with what would not be his only at-bat of the inning.
After quickly throwing away his two-run cushion by putting six straight batters on base, Adams settled in after getting Daniel Brooks to hit into a fielder’s choice.
With Alexandria up two, and one out away from getting out of the inning, McKenzie came to the plate again. This time, he lined a double to right-center field, plating three runs and giving the Aces a five-run lead. McKenzie then advanced to third on the throw home.
McKenzie then scored on a passed ball, and Romero topped the inning off with a solo home run to right-center field, giving Alexandria a 10-3 lead to end the inning.
For Gaithersburg’s pitchers, it was a rough night. Adams gave up 10 runs in just two and 2/3 innings of work, while reliever Damon Fernandez gave up four runs in just a third of an inning.
The top of the eighth proved to be an odd inning, as Alexandria managed to score six runs without a single hit. Fernandez, who came into the game to pitch, promptly loaded the bases, with two walks and hitting a batter. He then walked Riley Cheek with the bases loaded, before being pulled for Sammy Senders, who walked two of the next three batters, giving Alexandria a 15-5 lead.
A defensive error would cap off the inning, giving Alexandria a 17-5 lead, all without a single hit.
For Giants manager, Jeff Rabberman, Monday night’s loss was another in a frustrating up-and-down season for Gaithersburg, one in which it has been difficult for them to put back-to-back wins together.
“It’s unfortunate, you know. We played really well last night, beat a really, really good team in the (Bethesda) Big Train, and to come out and do what we did today is unacceptable,” Rabberman said.
Like Gaithersburg, Alexandria’s season has been a struggle, but with all six teams in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League making the playoffs, Berset remained optimistic about his team’s chances this season after a big win over the Giants.
“We’ve been a little inconsistent,” he said. “We’ve had quite a few too many errors, and that’s going to make you inconsistent. If we clean up that defense…we’re going to be okay.”