It took the combination of stellar pitching, sufficient defense and timely hitting to lift the Gaithersburg Giants to a 2-1 victory over the visiting Alexandria Aces Sunday evening in a Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League game at Kelley Park. The victory allowed the Giants to end a five-game losing streak.
Recent Sherwood High School graduate, rising freshman at Florence Darlington Tech (S.C.) and Giants left-handed pitcher Brady Adam threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings and departed with a 1-0 lead. But it was fellow southpaw Brandon Estrain, a River Hill graduate and rising senior at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, who eventually earned the victory while throwing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.
“Brady came up to me last night and told me he was going to shut these guys down tonight and end our losing streak,” Gaithersburg coach Jeff Rabberman said. “Anytime you have a guy with his talent and his confidence that you can hand the ball to, you have to like being able to do that. We’re lucky to have him on our team.
“Brandon had been fighting some soreness in his throwing shoulder and he had been off for about a week, but he came in and did a real nice job. We finally got a few runs and got a few breaks.”
Adam, who went 8-3 at Sherwood last spring, was very good for most of the contest. Adam allowed four hits, struck out six batters, walked three and hit another while throwing strikes on 64 of 110 pitches.
“I thought my fastball was really moving and my slider was good,” said Adam, who threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the 27 batters he faced. “I didn’t go a good job getting ahead of the hitters. I got behind 2-0 to a couple of batters and then had to make some tough pitches. But I had not pitched in over a week, so I felt fresh and my arm felt good the whole game. I wanted to get through the seventh, but they didn’t want me to face the top of the order for a fourth time.”
Alexandria pitcher Tyler Tobin surrendered an unearned run in the sixth. Brady Acker drew a one-out walk. Then, with two outs, designated hitter Ty Culbraith hit a sharp chopper to third that Aces’ third baseman Josh Swirchak fielded cleanly, but threw it past first. It allowed Acker to race all the way around the bases to score the game’s first run.
Alexandria tied the game in the eighth and nearly took the lead against reliever Kevin Ross. Ashford Fulmer led off the inning with a double and then advanced to third on an infield single by Swirchak and scored on a groundout by Brad Elwood. Alexandria catcher Danny Bermudez then hit a liner down the left field line that appeared to just clear the third base bag. But the home plate umpire ruled it foul, sending Aces’ manager David DeSilva into a tirade that got him ejected before the next pitch. Bermudez walked but got stranded.
In the bottom of the eighth, Gaithersburg responded with the go-ahead run. Jeff Osak was hit by a pitch, took second on a wild pitch and then went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Connor Macalla. Then with two outs, Brandon Grove hit a broken bat, slicing liner past second that enabled Osak to score easily. Estrain, who retired the last batter of the eighth, allowed a lead-off single in the ninth, but retired the next three Alexandria batters to secure the win, striking out the last two.
“It had been at least 10 days since the last time I pitched,” said Estrain, a criminal justice major. “I felt pretty good out there tonight. It’s my second year on the team, but it’s almost like a whole new team with only five or six guys back from last year.”
Gaithersburg Giants 2, Alexandria Aces 1
AA 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1
GB 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 x — 2
WP — Brandon Estrain LP — Tyler Tobin 2B: AA — Jake Kuzbel RBI: AA — Brad Elwood 1 GB — Brandon Grove 1