By Jim McElhatton (File Photo)
The Alexandria Aces played small ball on their way to a second place finish in the regular season of the wooden bat Cal Ripken Collegiate Summer League.
Their scrappy style of play didn’t include many home runs, however. But that changed at the start of the team’s first home playoff game in franchise history Wednesday night, a showdown with the Rockville Express.
Leadoff batter Dylan Riner hit a solo homer in the bottom of the first. Two innings later, Aces catcher Bobby Burns came to the plate with the bases loaded and – after falling behind 0-2 in the count – crushed the next pitch, sending the ball down the right field line for an opposite field grand slam.
Burns heroics proved to be the difference in the Aces 6-2 win over the Express.
“It was a fastball outside, it was left a little over the plate,” said Burns, who played down his role in the victory, adding, “I just got lucky.”
And he was quick to heap credit on teammates, especially the bullpen.
“I think they’re the best in the league,” Burns said.
Neither Riner nor Burns had hit a home run all year. Burns, who will be a senior at Morehead State University, said the last time he hit a grand slam was – to the best of his recollection – back in little league.
Starter Colin Minon got the win after pitching seven innings and giving up one earned run. Tyler Fries, who finished the regular season with an ERA under 1.00, closed out the game with a 1-2-3 out ninth.
“We had the leadoff home run and that set the tone,” said head coach Dave DeSilva. “We out-hit them 13-5, and Colin did a fantastic job on the bump.”
With the win, the Aces get another home game, facing the Baltimore Redbirds Thursday night at Frank Mann Park.