BOWIE - The Bowie Baysox got an early lead tonight in Game 1 of the Double-A Northeast Championship Series. But the lead didn’t hold up as the Baysox bats were silenced most of the night.
Akron right-hander Peyton Battenfield allowed just one hit over seven innings as the RubberDucks beat Bowie 5-1 in the opener of the best-of-five series. Bowie will try to get even at home tomorrow night at 6:35 p.m.
Battenfield was acquired by Cleveland on July 30. The Indians traded outfielder Jordan Luplow and pitcher DJ Johnson to the Tampa Bay Rays for Battenfield. For the year, he was 7-1 with a 2.53 ERA for three teams. For Akron only in seven starts, he entered with a mark of 2-1 and 3.28 ERA.
He was baffling Bowie hitters tonight with his seven-inning one-hitter. He issued no walks and recorded 10 strikeouts over seven innings to match his season high. Bowie hitters went just 1-for-23 against the right-hander.
After Bowie starter Gray Fenter retired Akron, allowing one hit and no runs in the top of the first, the Baysox grabbed a quick 1-0 lead one batter into the home first.
It was hot-hitting shortstop Jordan Westburg, who often delivers hits to center and right-center, who hit one deep in that direction. It went out for a leadoff homer and 1-0 lead. Westburg, the O’s No. 6 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, produced his 16th homer and 80th RBI between three levels this season on the farm. It was his fifth homer in 31 games since he moved up to Bowie.
Westburg had a hot bat coming into this series. In seven games last week versus Altoona, he batted .393 (11-for-28) with two doubles, a homer, seven runs and three RBIs.
We didn’t know it then, but Battenfield would settle in big time and Bowie’s offense was dormant after the Westburg home run.
Fenter rolled through the first three innings, fanning four on 41 pitches, and took the lead to the fourth, but didn’t make it through that inning.
No. 3 hitter Jose Fermin led off with a single to right field. Cleanup hitter Bryan Lavastida followed with a two-run homer to center for the 2-1 lead. That was No. 4 for Lavastida, the Indians’ No. 13 prospect.
Fenter walked two of the next four hitters and was replaced by lefty Cameron Bishop, who hit his first batter but got a lineout to center to strand the bases loaded and end that frame with Bowie down 2-1.
Before the game, Bowie manager Buck Britton talked about how well his team played down the stretch to get here and they needed to win Sunday and did to reach this series.
“It kind of started two weeks ago,” said Britton. “We won 12 of 14 just to get here. We’ve been playing really good baseball coming in and hopefully we keep it rolling.”
Britton said his team was excited about the championship series and chasing Bowie’s second title ever to follow up the 2015 Eastern League championship.
“Yeah, everybody came in and you could tell there was a little bit of extra energy, which was nice. Guys were getting here really early. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys play,” he said.
But the Akron right-hander took some of the enthusiasm out of the Baysox players tonight and the crowd of 1,494 at Prince George’s Stadium.
Akron added three runs in the seventh to turn that 2-1 edge into a more comfortable 5-1 margin. Jonathan Engelmann hit a leadoff solo homer. Several batters later a two-run single by George Valera off Bishop made it 5-1.
Now the Baysox will need a win on Wednesday night with ace right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (6-1, 2.60 ERA) scheduled to pitch. The Baysox will need a big effort from the top-ranked pitching prospect in the minors to get back in this series.
Lefty Drew Rom is scheduled to start Game 3 on Friday night at Akron. If a fourth game is necessary, Bowie will go with Garrett Stallings on Saturday. Kyle Brnovich would pitch a fifth and deciding game on Sunday, Britton said earlier today.