June 9, 2009
By Michael Coppinger
FAIRFAX, Va. — Ryan Court's eighth inning grand slam over the centerfield wall punctuated the Senator's rally, leading to a 4-2 victory over the host Fairfax Nationals Tuesday night at Fairfax High School.
“I struggled my first at-bat, so I just wanted to put the bat on the ball,” Court said. “I looked for a good pitch to hit, I had a good count, good fastball, so I was sitting on fastball and I got the pitch I was looking for. “It was good how we fought hard in the later innings, we never gave up and we had all good at-bats in the eighth.”
The two teams were to play a doubleheader, but the weather would not cooperate, causing a nearly two and a half hour rain delay. The soggy infield would prove vital to the Senators' comeback, as they had consecutive bunt singles in the eighth on the infield grass.
“Our bunting has been very good,” Burr said. “I felt like if we got some runners on, it was not going to be a problem to get some SAC bunts down and beat them out. And that's what happened. “We're going to continue to put pressure on when we can and hope our pitching holds up and gives us an opportunity to win games late.”
Alfredo Rodriguez led off the eighth inning with a walk. Then Ty Wiesemeyer advanced Rodriguez to second on a bunt single. With Court on-deck, the Senators went small-ball again, as the speedy Austin Booker placed a bunt single perfectly down the third base line to load the bases. The stage was set for Court, who subsequently blasted one over the centerfield wall for the team's first home run of the season.
The grand slam off of Nats pitcher Matthew Nodelman (0-1) came as a huge relief to the Sens, who earlier had struggled to figure out Nationals pitcher Chason Choate. Choate entered the game in relief of starter Johnny Bladel following the prolonged rain delay. He went five innings allowing no runs on just two hits, walking none and striking out three.
Choate's counterpart, Senators pitcher Greg Uzee (1-0), had a great game as well. Lasting four innings in relief of starter Eric Walters, he allowed only two hits and struck out seven to pick up the win.
“I'm still learning,” Uzee said. “Coach is telling me put the ball over the plate and that's what I've been trying to do and having a lot of success with it. I just try to stay outside, set them up with the fastball, and mainly just get ahead (in the count).”
The Senators, up 4-1 going into the final stanza, had some scary moments, as pitcher Ryan Camp had control problems for the second straight game, walking three of the four batters he faced to put the winning run at home-plate. After loading the bases, Camp was pulled and replaced by Kyle Hald, who had success in his last relief appearance.
Hald started off shaky, throwing a wild pitch to score a run and move the tying run to second base. But it was smooth sailing from there, as he struck out struggling Nats slugger Nick Caito and forced a groundout to secure his first save of the season.
The Senators are now 2-1 and just one game back of the league-leading Carney Pirates. They will look to start their first winning streak of the season on Wednesday night when they visit the DC Grays at Maury Wills Field at 7 p.m.