BOWIE - Two days removed from the must-win game that saved their season and got them to tonight, Bowie opens the Double-A Northeast Championship Series tonight, hosting Akron in Game 1 of a best-of-five series.
Bowie’s three-run rally in the eighth inning on Sunday gave the Baysox a 7-5 win over Altoona and sent Bowie to the playoffs, where tonight they begin a series seeking their second league championship after winning the 2015 Eastern League title.
With the game tied 5-5 on Sunday, catcher Cody Roberts, the No. 9 hitter, stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. His two-run single to right put the Baysox ahead and would later touch off a wild postgame celebration.
It had to be one of the biggest hits of his baseball life for the O’s 11th-round pick in 2018 out of University of North Carolina.
“It was probably top of the list in the minors so far,” Roberts said this afternoon. “I’ve been to the playoffs before in 2019 (with low Single-A Delmarva), but to actually send your team to the playoffs was a big deal. My teammates got on base and did their job before me, but to get in there and do my part felt pretty good.”
Roberts heard from several people around the organization Sunday night. It’s been a season where he played with three affiliates, starting with high Single-A Aberdeen, later moving to Triple-A Norfolk and now settling in here with Bowie.
“I’ve kind of bounced around with several teams this year in the org,” he said. “So I kind of heard from player and coaches that I have been with all year. It is cool to hear from them and know the whole org is cheering you on. Everyone was watching the game, hoping the Baysox would make it. To be the guy that got that hit, I think I got more credit than I deserved. Lot of heroes from that game.”
Here is a look at each team heading into tonight and their league ranking:
Runs: Bowie 628 (tied for first), Akron 628 (tied for first)
Homers: Bowie 170 (second), Akron 116 (ninth)
Batting Average: Bowie .235 (ninth) Akron .254 (third)
OBP: Bowie .332 (fourth), Akron .338 (second)
Walks: Bowie 507 (first), Akron 440 (third)
Slugging: Bowie .428 (fourth), Akron .415 (fifth)
OPS: Bowie .760 (fourth), Akron .752 (fifth)
Team ERA: Bowie 4.28 (seventh), Akron 3.78 (second)
Rotation ERA: Bowie 3.97 (third), Akron 3.64 (first)
Bullpen ERA: Bowie 4.58 (ninth), Akron 3.93 (fifth)
At the end of the year, Bowie was pitching better and it was one big reason the Baysox ran off a 10-game winning streak. Bowie has gone 14-5 in September with a team ERA of 3.26 that was third-best in the league. Akron went 10-7 with a 4.62 ERA that was 11th.
Right-hander Gray Fenter (6-4, 5.47 ERA) gets the start for Bowie tonight. He pitched to an ERA of 2.70 in three starts this month.
During the regular season Bowie (73-47) had a plus-76 run differential while Akron (73-46) was plus-134. Bowie was 33-27 at home, while Akron went 35-24 on the road.
The last team on the Orioles farm to win a championship was the 2015 Eastern League championship Baysox. That club included contributions from Trey Mancini, Caleb and Corban Joseph, Mike Yastrzemski, Quincy Latimore and Garabez Rosa. Among its starting pitchers were Terry Doyle, Joe Gunkel, Parker Bridwell and Tim Berry, and among those in the ‘pen were Mychal Givens and Andrew Triggs.