BOWIE - It was not the night the Bowie Baysox were hoping for. The weather made it challenging and so did Akron RubberDucks batters.
They scored six runs in just 2 2/3 innings off Bowie ace Grayson Rodriguez - that was a season high for him in runs allowed - as Akron beat Bowie 8-5 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Double-A Northeast Championship Series.
The Baysox have scored just six runs on six hits in the first two games.
The late afternoon downpour finally subsided, but the first pitch came about hour after the scheduled start time of 6:35 p.m. Then Akron batters quickly went to work against Rodriguez, who was 9-1 with a 2.36 ERA this year between two teams and had gone 6-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 18 Double-A starts.
Akron’s Will Brennan led off the game with a double in the gap in left-center, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly. Two batters in, the RubberDucks led 1-0. Second baseman Jose Fermin drew a walk and later scored on George Valera’s RBI double for the 2-0 lead in the opening inning, in which Rodriguez threw 29 pitches and just 16 for strikes.
Bowie got one back when shortstop Gunnar Henderson, playing in his sixth game with the team, hit his first Double-A homer in the last of the second. Like many of his homers this year, this one came to the opposite field in left. It was the 18th homer of the year over three levels for Henderson, ranked as the No. 75 prospect in the top 100 by MLBPipeline.com and No. 80 via Baseball America.
So, the Baysox closed within a run, but Akron quickly pulled away, scoring four times in the third as they knocked Rodriguez from the game. That inning included a throwing error by Rodriguez on a play at the plate, along with a Bryan Lavastida RBI double and Valera’s RBI single.
Akron led 6-1 after three innings and later added single runs in the seventh and ninth.
Rodriguez allowed six hits and six runs (five earned) over 2 2/3 innings in his second-shortest outing of the year. He gave up four runs in 1 2/3 innings versus Hartford on July 24. His previous season high for runs allowed was five on Aug. 22 in 3 2/3 innings at Reading.
It was certainly not the kind of outing Baysox fans were used to seeing from a pitcher who allowed two earned runs or fewer in 20 of his 23 starts for the year. In September for the Baysox, he had allowed just one run on five hits over 13 innings with three walks and 17 strikeouts for an ERA this month of 0.69.
But Akron had put up a few runs against him in two June starts earlier in the summer. In those games, Rodriguez had allowed four runs over 9 2/3 innings against the RubberDucks.
Bowie added a couple of runs in the seventh on an RBI double by Shayne Fontana and two Akron errors.
The Baysox rallied in the ninth but came up short. Greg Cullen’s booming two-run double to center pulled Bowie with 8-5, but that was as close as they got.
David Lebron had a strong relief outing for Bowie. Over 4 1/3 innings, he allowed three hits and one run.
Tonight’s attendance was 1,153 who braved the soggy conditions in Bowie.
But Akron has taken a commanding 2-0 lead in this series, which resumes Friday night at Akron, and the RubberDucks will have three chances to pick up one win and claim a sixth Double-A title. They previously won Eastern League championships in 2003, 2005, 2009, 2012 and 2016.
The Baysox, who went 73-47 in the regular season, winning 12 of their last 14 to make the postseason, won their only Eastern League championship in 2015.
In the third game on Friday night, lefty Drew Rom (3-1, 3.83 ERA) gets the start for the Baysox versus Akron left-hander Konnor Pilkington (3-2, 2.23 ERA).
🚨 Gunnar Henderson gets his first Double-A homer! pic.twitter.com/GqDvrL2GyR-- Orioles Player Development (@OsPlayerDev) September 23, 2021