Despite late game surge, Aces cant catch up with Nationals

Despite late game surge, Aces cant catch up with Nationals

Three outs more and Alexandria Aces coach Corey Haines might have watched his squad overcome Southern Maryland Nationals’ narrow 3-2 lead Tuesday night. 
With just 27 at his disposal, Haines had to gaze on from the dugout as a late game offensive renaissance fell just short of carrying the Aces to victory. For a young team, some players likely adjusting after trading in their aluminum bats for the wooden variety fresh off the college season, it’s no surprise the team’s offense has struggled to get into the swing of things.
Knowing that didnt make it any easier, though.
[The loss] was really tough, said Matt Kilby, a T.C. Williams graduate now splitting time between the Aces and the United States Naval Academy. We had a lot of potential, we just didnt get as many runs out of it as we should have.
After brushing off the Vienna River Dogs 6-1 in their home opener, the Aces bats began to cool. They fell 8-1 in their first matchup with the Nationals over the weekend before losing 8-5 to defending champions Bethesda Big Train a day later. 
They labored again Tuesday, though by the seventh inning the Aces showed signs they were coming to life. Wilmington University senior Jordan Oncay tripled and teammate Mike Godwin sent him home with a quick hit to first base. 
Though the inning would end with a pop fly, the Aces offensive production was picking up. A short three outs later and they were at it again, ready to go after their defense led by relief pitcher Brendan Lozupone stranded two Nationals runners on base. 
The excitement got the best of them. Junior Chris Sweeney drove one deep into centerfield and tore down the baseline, trying to turn a sure double into a triple. He would not beat out the throw to third base. 
Weve got to keep that to a double, Haines said afterward, visibly pained by the misstep. This game was really tough. We could have easily tied it, if not won it. In the eighth inning, that should have been a double.
Sophomore Jordan Hill stood on first base minutes later after singling into centerfield. He advanced to second after Nationals relief pitcher Matt Diehl nailed Alex Buccilli for a walk. 
But with a chance to even up the score, Monmouth University sophomore John Guida struck out, stranding Hill and Buccilli and putting an end to the Aces best chance at tying things up. 
They knocked on the door once more in the ninth, Oncay again finding himself on base. With runners on first and third, Godwin came up clutch a second time with a single to drive Oncay home. 
As they had an inning earlier, the Aces came within spitting distance of sending the game into extra innings only to see the Nationals pull away. Frostburg State University senior John Barrett hit into a double play. As if the heartbreaking out at third the inning before wasnt enough, Sweeney wasnt quick enough to outrun a throw to first and jogged off the field as the games final out.
Now 1-3, the way forward is clear for the Aces: the bats need to start swinging. 
We got to get our offense going, we cant get just one hit every inning. You cant score on one run an inning, Haines said. Weve got to get ahead early on offense and push it hard.
Its hard to ask more from Daniel Stinsman, the Aces starting pitcher and the sole returning member of the 2010 Aces lineup. Despite being charged with the loss, Stinsman let up just eight hits and three runs in seven innings on the mound. 
Kilby gave Stinsman high marks. Its up to the bats to provide a little support as the Aces battle back toward .500, he said. 
We couldnt put up the offensive numbers, Kilby said. Playing from behind is no fun. 
The Aces take on the Silver Spring Takoma T-Bolts at home Wednesday night, after the Times deadline, before hitting the road to face the Baltimore Red Birds.