By Noah Abbe
The Alexandria Aces battled the Gaithersburg Giants Monday night but could only score one run in what wound up a 3-1 loss.
Despite an overall record of 8-6 and a recent victory over perennial Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League powerhouse Bethesda Big Train, the Aces had difficulty mustering offense in the game at Frank Mann Field before a crowd of 133.
Monday’s game was the 15th Alexandria has played this season and Aces infielder Ryan Tassone’s first game since an injury early in the season. Prior to the game, first year manager Chris Berset, who played seven years in the Cincinnatti Reds minor league system, expressed confidence in his squad.
“When we’re hitting on all cylinders, we have a really good pitching staff and a really good approach at the plate,” he said. “When we do those two facets of the game, we’re really good.”
The Aces currently have 13 pitchers in their 2018 roster, and four of them appeared in Monday’s game. Cole Lalonde started the game, giving up three runs in five innings before giving way to Keegan Foge, who kept the Giants off the scoreboard while pitching the sixth and seventh innings. Matt Moore and Austin Gossmann followed with a scoreless inning each to keep the Aces within striking distance.
After neither team scored in the first two innings, left-handed hitting outfielder Sam Bertelson hit a liner into the outfield in the Giants’ half of the third inning that was just out of reach of Aces outfielder Connor Bacon, who made a diving attempt for the ball. Giants catcher Saul Garza followed with a double, driving in Bertelson with the first run of the game.
That was all of the scoring for the next inning and a half before the Giants scored two more runs off of Lalonde in the fifth inning. After infielder Joey Goodwin struck out, catcher Jackson Campbell hit a double for the Giants. As outfielder Ryan Brown, the Giants’ third batter in the inning, hit a single, Campbell made it to third. Both runners were then driven in by Bertelson and Garza.
Down 3-0, the Aces finally got on the scoreboard in the seventh inning on a two-out home run by Tassone, who returned from his injury with a bang. Tassone’s blast gave the home crowd something to cheer about, as James Brown’s “I Feel Good” blared through the field’s speakers.
After catcher Nate Mallot and Bacon followed by reaching base for the Aces, the Giants convened on the mound to talk strategy as a ballpark rendition of the Jeopardy theme played over the speakers. Unfortunately, the rally fizzled as the next Aces batter, infielder Chris Alleyne, hit a liner that was caught by the Giants, ending the inning.
That ended the game’s scoring. Despite the loss, the Aces’ bullpen threw four scoreless innings to keep Alexandria in the contest.
Following the loss, Aces skipper Berset blamed a lack of timely hitting for his team’s two-game losing streak.
“The past two nights, we were looking for the big hit, and it just wasn’t quite there,” Berset said. “We would get hits, but the rally would just cut short.”
Berset said he thought Aces starter Lalonde showed improvement from previous outings.
“He had a little bit more of a command of his fastball,” Berset said. “It was definitely better than his last time out there, and he definitely kept us in the game. … We’ll get on a roll here. Things can turn in a heartbeat.”
The Alexandria Aces play each night except for Tuesdays. Home games start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday is the Alexandria Times sponsorship night at Frank Mann Field, and the Times staff will be on hand to greet Aces fans starting at 6:15.