That was a very tough way for a season to end for the Double-A Bowie Baysox.
They let a late 5-0 lead get away and lost 6-5 at Akron tonight as the RubberDucks scored twice in the ninth to produce a championship via a walk-off win.
Akron, down 5-0, scored four runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to stun Bowie and end the year for the Baysox, who were swept three straight in the Double-A Northeast Championship Series.
A costly throwing error by second baseman Cadyn Grenier scored the first two runs in the last of the eighth and Akron pulled within three runs. Jose Tena’s single brought in two more runs, and before right-hander Diogenes Almengo got the last out of the frame, Akron was within 5-4.
In the ninth, Akron’s Will Brennan hit a leadoff homer for the 5-5 tie. A walk, sac bunt and wild pitch left a man on third with one out. Bowie eventually walked the bases loaded and Almengo got a pop out for the second out. But Akron’s Bo Naylor lined a single to right to touch off a wild celebration for the RubberDucks, who claimed their sixth league title and first since 2016.
Much earlier, Bowie had been held hitless through 4 2/3 innings tonight, but they had their own lefty also holding down their opponent and that was big. Drew Rom threw five scoreless innings tonight with the pressure on and Bowie seemed on its way to a win, leading 5-0.
The 21-year-old Rom went a combined 11-1 with a 3.18 ERA this season between high Single-A Aberdeen and Bowie. He led all O’s minor leaguers in wins. He produced a 2.17 walk rate, which was second among all O’s farm pitchers with 80 innings or more. His strikeout rate of 10.3 was seventh among that group. After going 8-0 with a 2.79 ERA at Aberdeen, Rom has gone 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA in nine Double-A games, with nine walks and 47 strikeouts and a 1.10 WHIP in 40 innings.
He was pitching his best ball in September and that continued tonight.
Over five innings, Rom gave up five hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He threw 81 pitches, 54 for strikes, and he made a lot of clutch pitches as Akron went 0-for-9 against him with runners in scoring position. A diving stop by third baseman Patrick Dorrian in the Akron fourth help thwart that rally.
In four games this month, Rom has thrown 19 scoreless innings on 10 hits with one walk to 25 strikeouts.
Bowie broke the scoreless tie in the fifth with a rally that began with two outs and none on against Akron lefty Konner Pilkington, who has gone 7-6 with a 3.04 ERA this year over two levels and went 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight Akron games.
Cody Roberts drew a walk and Grenier reached on a bunt single for Bowie’s first hit. When No. 9 hitter Shayne Fontana walked on a close 3-2 pitch, the bases were loaded. Jordan Westburg then hit a grounder to the right of Akron first Ike Freeman, who misplayed the ball, allowing two runs to score for the 2-0 edge.
In the seventh, Watson’s two-run double scored Westburg, who was hit by a pitch, and Dorrian, who single, for the 5-0 lead.
More comfortable, but as it turned out, not enough.
Bowie right-hander Logan Gillaspie followed Rom to the mound and threw two scoreless innings on four strikeouts, touching 97 mph with his fastball. But the four-run eighth and two-run ninth erased Bowie’s lead and this was a tough way to end a great year.
The Baysox, who went 73-47 in the regular season, were trying to keep their season alive and force a fourth game tomorrow night. They needed three straight wins this weekend to claim a second league championship following the 2015 Eastern League title.
But the Baysox fall in the championship series for the second time in the last three years and for the second time in two years where there was actually a season played.