They took an early lead but then fell behind. But the Double-A Bowie Baysox put together a dramatic rally in the last of the eighth this afternoon and pulled out their must-win game today.
Bowie entered the final day of the regular season needing a win to advance to the playoffs. A loss and the season would be over. The Baysox entered the last of the eighth down 5-4 but scored three times to beat Altoona 7-5.
The Baysox end the regular season 73-47 (.608), winning 12 of their final 14 games, to post their best winning percentage ever. They will host the first two games of the Northeast Championship Series on Tuesday and Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. The best-of-five series will determine the league’s champion.
Akron will be Bowie’s playoff opponent. The RubberDucks beat Somerset 5-4 today, coming from 4-0 down to win.
In the Baysox eighth, the winning rally started with Zach Watson and Johnny Rizer drawing walks, and then Andrew Daschbach was hit by a pitch. They had bases loaded with no outs. Toby Welk then bounced a grounder to third and Altoona got the force at home. But Watson slid into the catcher and he dropped the ball. The umpire ruled he had the ball long enough to record an out. But the ball got just far enough away for Rizer to dash home and score the run that tied it 5-5.
Gunnar Henderson then blooped a single to left but Daschbach was thrown out at home easily. Cadyn Grenier walked and the bases were loaded again. Then the No. 9 hitter, catcher Cody Roberts, singled to right to score two runs for the 7-5 lead.
That may have been the biggest hit of the year for Bowie. Roberts was 0-for-3 on the day and was batting .229 in 16 Bowie games. But the O’s 11th-round draft pick in 2018 out of the University of North Carolina got two clutch RBIs for the lead.
Right-hander Diogenes Almengo then recorded a 1-2-3 ninth for his 16th save. It touched off a celebration on the field as Bowie was indeed playoff bound.
Much earlier, it started well for Bowie today. The Baysox held a 3-0 lead after the third inning at Prince George’s Stadium.
In the last of the first, Jordan Westburg led off with a single to right and later stole second base. Then Bowie center fielder Watson blasted a two-run homer to left for a 2-0 Baysox lead. It was Watson’s 21st homer this season between high Single-A Aberdeen and Bowie. It was his 12th in 49 games for the Baysox.
In the home third, Patrick Dorrian hit a solo homer to right and the lead grew to 3-0. It was No. 22 for Dorrian.
Knuckleballer Mickey Jannis got the start today for Bowie and held Altoona in check through the top of the third. But he ran into big trouble in the fourth as Altoona got six hits against him the second time through their lineup. Altoona scored five runs on six hits to take the lead. The inning featured an RBI single by Josh Bissonette, a three-run homer from Arden Pabst and an RBI single by Rodolfo Castro.
Down by a 5-3 margin, the Baysox got within a run in the last of the sixth on their third homer of the game. Daschbach hit a solo shot to right to make it 5-4. It was his 16th homer on the year and his eighth in 30 games with Bowie.
So Bowie was down by two runs after the fourth and by one heading to the last of the eighth. But the Baysox pulled it out and now will look for their second championship in team history.
This will be Bowie’s third championship series appearance. They won the Eastern League in 2015, but lost in the finals in 2019.
The Baysox...ARE MOVING ON!-- Bowie Baysox (@BowieBaysox) September 19, 2021
For the third time in franchise history, the Baysox will play for a title!
FINAL: Altoona 5 | Bowie 7 pic.twitter.com/uLQnHX71Hr