Harrisburg completes comeback with 4-1 win, ousting Baysox

September 11, 1994|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,Sun Staff Writer

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A series that started with abundant hope for the Bowie Baysox ended with their defeat last night at RiverSide Stadium.

Down two games to none after playing twice at home, the defending Eastern League champion Harrisburg Senators completed their come-from-behind ways with a 4-1 victory over Bowie before 5,117, the largest crowd ever to see a playoff game at the stadium.

The Baysox scored first again -- they did it in all five games -- but generated almost nothing offensively after the first inning against J.J. Thobe and Al Reyes.

Harrisburg thus gained the league championship series for the fifth time since 1987. The Senators have won two titles, including last year's.

Harrisburg opens a best-of-5 series against the Binghamton Mets, the Northern Division champion, here at 6:05 p.m. today.

Reyes, who set a league record with 35 saves, was in command the final three innings after a strong effort by Thobe.

The Baysox managed only two runners against Reyes, whom they clubbed for the cycle in the ninth inning of a Game 2 victory here.

"Our offense let us down the last three games," said Baysox manager Pete Mackanin, whose team scored only five runs in those games. "They did it and we didn't. They outplayed us."

It was the second straight disappointing ending for the nucleus of this team, which, as the Frederick Keys, lost to Wilmington two games to none in the Single-A Carolina League playoffs last season.

"These guys have to learn how to compete in playoffs and win," said Mackanin. "It's OK to have a great year, but you're playing to win, not to come in second."

The Baysox' two major offensive thrusts resulted in very little.

In the first inning, Bowie had three hits and a run on Alex Ochoa's single by the time Thobe threw eight pitches. But Jack Voigt popped up and Rob Lukachyk's bouncer up the middle became an inning-ending double play.

In the fifth, with the Senators ahead 3-1, an error, a double by Clayton Byrne and Curtis Goodwin's swinging bunt single loaded the bases with one out.

Edgar Alfonzo stung a line drive, but the ball went directly to Mike Hardge at second base for an easy double play.

"We just didn't get any luck," said Alfonzo.

Said Mackanin: "Our sails were really deflated after that. The whole dugout sagged."

Bowie starter Garrett Stephenson didn't pitch that badly, but a two-out walk to Harrisburg's No. 9 hitter, Matt Rundels, loaded the bases and cost him dearly in the second.

Eastern League MVP Mark Grudzielanek followed with a drive to deep right-center that Ochoa chased down, but couldn't hold. All three runners scored.

"They [Harrisburg] got a lot of breaks and that was one of them," said Ochoa. "That ball was just off my glove. It was a hard play, but the kind of play that should have been made, and I didn't."

Starter Jimmy Haynes replaced Stephenson for the fourth, and allowed Harrisburg's final run in the fifth on a double by Grudzielanek and a single by Tyrone Horne.

Joe Borowski rescued Haynes from a bases-filled situation in the sixth and shut out the Senators the rest of the way, but it didn't matter the way the Bowie offense was misfiring.

In the final three games, the Baysox were 5-for-18 with runners in scoring position.

"It's kind of tough to take, coming in here and winning the first two games right off the bat, then losing," said Ochoa. "I'm really disappointed that we couldn't put them away."

Stephenson was the victim of two bloop hits before Grudzielanek hit the ball that just eluded Ochoa.

"It's not like they hit rockets off me," he said. "I thought Alex had that ball, then he turned around and picked it up and I knew we were in trouble."

BAYSOX PLAYOFF RESULTS

BOWIE BAYSOX vs. HARRISBURG SENATORS

Eastern League semifinal series

(Best of five; Senators win, 3-2)

Game 1: Baysox, 7-6 (10 innings)

Game 2: Baysox, 3-0

Game 3: Senators, 2-1

Game 4: Senators, 9-3

% Game 5: Senators, 4-1

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