The Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts face the DC Grays tonight at 7 pm in a crucial game at Blair. At stake is a two-game swing in the race for second place in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League and a bye in the first round of playoffs. Both teams are coming off losses last night on the road.
The Bolts lost 8-5 to the FCA Braves at South County Field, in Lorton, Virginia, while the Grays were beaten, 15-1, by the Gaithersburg Giants at Criswell Automotive Field, in Gaithersburg.
The first round of playoffs features the third through sixth place teams competing in two single-elimination games for the opportunity to face the first and second place teams in a best of three series. Single-elimination games are highly unpredictable and give teams no chance to recover from a subpar performance. A best two of three does allow a team the chance to come back if they don’t play well. So, the chance to avoid the single-elimination game is a powerful incentive to finish second. Finishing in the top two also bestows home field advantage. The Bolts are 10-5 in games played at Blair. The last time Blair hosted a playoff game was in July of 2017, a loss to the Bethesda Big Train.
Currently, the T-Bolts hold a two game lead over the DC Grays for second place with six games to play. A win tonight by the T-Bolts would put them up by three games with five to play. But a loss would shrink the lead to one game, so tonight’s game can swing the standings by two games. The Bolts magic number to clinch second stands at four—any combination of Bolts wins and Grays losses that total four will clinch second place for Silver Spring-Takoma and a playoff bye.
The scheduled pitchers tonight are, for the T-Bolts, Nicholas Charleson (Queens University of Charlotte), and for the Grays, Frank Craska (Lafayette College). Charleson joined the T-Bolts in mid-July to strengthen a beleaguered pitching corps and has gotten into one game—a July 13 win over the Gaithersburg Giants, 13-6, in which he pitched 2.1 innings, allowed no runs on one hit. He walked two and struck out four.
Frank Craska has been in eight games for the Grays and his record is 1-0 with a save. His ERA is 5.14 over 22.2 innings; he has allowed 27 hits, and has walked only eight and struck out 20. He’s faced the T-Bolts twice. The first was a two-inning stint on June 12 at Blair in which he gave up three runs on four hits; the Bolts won the game 5-0. The second was July 9 at the Nats Baseball Academy in Southeast Washington. He pitched five innings and was charged with five runs on six hits.
That’s the game the Bolts trailed 10-2 in the sixth inning before cutting the lead to 10-8 in the ninth. In the ninth, the T-Bolts scored five runs on three hits, with all five runs coming after two were out. winning the game, 13-10.
The highlights last night for the T-Bolts were Queens University of Charlotte shortstop Dominic Ford’s two singles as his batting average begins to climb; a three-run home run from Ryan Roell (Frostburg State), his fifth of the year, which brought his RBI total to 24, second highest on the team after Tony Gallo; and a two-run home run from Cole Freise (Millersville University) making his debut with the team this season. Cole played for the Bolts last year.
Game time on the T-Bolts Radio Network is 6:55 pm with Julian Baron and Neal Lavon on the call. Justin Jaquis will be handling social media and in-stadium production.