Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts looked to maintain their recent hot streak and strong play as they seek a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Their journey to the second-seed hit a speed bump Thursday, as Jack Cone tossed six sharp innings for the FCA Braves and Silver Spring-Takoma pitchers combined for nine walks en route to an 8-5 Thunderbolts loss.
Alex Mykut started strong for the Thunderbolts, sitting the Braves down in order the first time through their lineup. Cone matched him until he had a hiccup in the third inning.
Dom Ford picked up the Thunderbolts’ first hit of the night with a single. Two batters later, Cole Friese — making his season debut — lined a two-run home run down the left field line to give Silver Spring-Takoma the lead.
Cone settled down after that and dominated, allowing three baserunners the rest of the way.
Mykut, meanwhile, ran into trouble in the fourth inning. The Braves loaded the bases with two outs, and a passed ball allowed Jordan Ebersole to score and cut the Thunderbolts’ lead in half.
Three pitches later, Charlie Ludwick crushed a two-run double off the wall, giving the Braves a 3-2 lead, their first of the game. Ryan Morash then lashed a RBI double, plating Ludwick and extending the Braves’ lead.
Ryan Miles would take over for Mykut heading into the fifth inning. Mykut allowed four runs on four hits and walked two while striking out five in four innings, taking the loss.
Miles worked around three walks to pitch a scoreless fifth but gave up a run on a RBI groundout in the sixth.
Jack Nathan took over for Cone in the seventh. Cone allowed two runs on four hits while striking out seven in six innings, picking up the win.
Nathan shut down Silver Spring-Takoma, and the Braves added three insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh to go up six.
Ryan Roell gave the Thunderbolts life in the eighth inning, cranking a three-run home run off Praise Thorsen — his fifth of the season — to cut the Braves’ lead to 8-5. But it was too late, as the Braves held off Silver Spring-Takoma from there to secure the win.
The Thunderbolts will look to snap a two-game skid Friday in a pivotal matchup against the DC Grays. A Silver Spring-Takoma win puts them in firm control of their destiny toward clinching a bye in the playoffs.