BOWIE, Md. - Double-A Bowie center fielder Cedric Mullins had three hits, including a homer, but three Baysox pitchers had a rough night as Altoona beat Bowie 8-4 tonight to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern League playoff series.
After two straight losses at Prince George’s Stadium, the best-of-five series moves to Altoona tomorrow night. Bowie will now have to win three straight on the road to advance to the championship series for the second time in three seasons.
Altoona No. 7 hitter Elvis Escobar drove in three runs and No. 9 hitter Michael Suchy added three hits, including a homer, and three RBIs. The Curve had 12 hits in its win tonight.
Bowie lefty Tanner Scott got the start. After Scott got through the first two innings scoreless on 29 pitches, Altoona got three off him and right-hander Alec Asher in the third. Jerrick Suiter’s RBI double with two outs made it a 1-0 lead, and an infield hit and walk followed to load the bases. Asher came on and Escobar’s two-run single to left made it 3-0.
Scott threw some swing-and-miss sliders, but his command was inconsistent. Over 2 2/3 innings, he was charged with three runs and three hits. He walked three, hit two batters, fanned two and threw 28 of his 56 pitches for strikes. Scott threw nine scoreless innings versus Altoona during the regular season.
“He was just very inconsistent and didn’t command the ball well and never got on track,” Bowie manager Gary Kendall said of Scott. “From one pitch to another, just didn’t command the ball as well as he has been actually. He pitched in traffic all night with baserunners. Was just a tough night.”
In relief tonight, Asher, who was optioned here Sept. 3 from the Orioles, allowed three runs in 1 2/3 innings. He also allowed a two-run single with the runs charged to Scott.
“Our intent was to give him a clean inning, but he had to come in during the third. At times it looked like he would work out of some situations but they got a big hit or two,” Kendall said.
Bowie quickly got the three runs back in the last of the third. Erick Salcedo walked and Mullins singled Salcedo to third. Ryan Moutcastle’s RBI groundout made it 3-1. Two batters later, Eastern League MVP Garabez Rosa blasted a game-tying two-run homer to left off Altoona right-hander Alex McRae.
But Altoona’s three-run fifth off Asher and reliever Jesus Liranzo made it a 6-3 lead for the Curve. Bowie cut into that with Mullins’ solo homer to center in the last of the fifth. Mullins hit 13 homers in the regular season. The blast made him 3-for-3 in the game and Bowie was down 6-4.
But then Suchy hit a two-run homer to left off Liranzo in the seventh as Altoona opened an 8-4 lead. The Curve went just 5-14 in the regular season versus Bowie, but now they’ve opened a commanding two games to none lead in the Western Division Championship Series.
Mullins had three of Bowie’s seven hits and the Baysox went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Bowie was shut out on one hit last night and has scored just four runs on eight hits in the first two games.
“We just couldn’t string any hits together. We’ve been in a bit of a funk on offense the last couple of weeks. Hopefully that turns around as we get on the road,” Kendall said.
In Game 3 on Saturday night, Bowie right-hander Lucas Long (9-6, 2.95) faces Altoona right-hander Austin Coley (6-4, 3.01 ERA) at 6 p.m.
In the Carolina League playoffs tonight, Lynchburg beat Single-A Frederick 4-0 to even that best-of-three series at a game apiece. Tomorrow’s winner takes the series and will be co-champion of the Carolina League for 2017.