Baysox win playoff opener, 7-6


HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The center fielder and the catcher combined for the save last night at RiverSide Stadium; then the shortstop recorded the victory.

A sensational defensive play by Curtis Goodwin and Kris Gresham in the bottom of the ninth inning rescued the Bowie Baysox from defeat. Then Edgar Alfonzo doubled home the winning run in the 10th to subdue Harrisburg, 7-6, in a thrilling opener of their best-of-five Eastern League playoff series.

It was postseason baseball at its finest between the league's two best teams, who split their regular-season series, 9-9.

"This is a big one for us," said Bowie manager Pete Mackanin. "It was so close all the way, and it takes a lot out of you mentally to lose a game like this."

The decision hinged on virtually every pitch in a game that was tied at 3 and 6, a game both teams led during the middle innings.

But the game-turning event came in the bottom of the ninth with one out and Matt Rundels on second via a walk and Armando Benitez's balk.

Phil Dauphin sent a line drive into left-center that even the fleet Goodwin couldn't have caught. But Rundels hesitated between second and third before finally streaking toward the plate, assured the ball would fall.

Goodwin fielded it and fired a strike to the plate on the fly. Gresham caught the ball as Rundels arrived simultaneously, held it and made the tag. Benitez struck out Tyrone Horne to force extra innings.

Rundels said that he was thinking twice about Goodwin's speed before straying too far off second.

"When I saw the ball hit the bat, I thought it was a hit," he said. "Then I looked over my shoulder and saw him running. The way he's been chasing balls down lately, I hesitated to make sure."

Goodwin had driven home a go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and he ignited the decisive rally by beating out an infield hit, then stealing his 11th base against the Senators this season.

Alfonzo ended the regular season by tying a club record with a 16-game hitting streaking, but he had gone hitless in this game until it counted most.

"I couldn't go 0-for-5," he said. "I was looking for that pitch and got it."

Bowie wasn't home yet. In the bottom of the 10th, league MVP Mark Grudzielanek tripled to lead off against Joe Borowski, who officially got the save.

Borowski struck out Randy Wilstead, then walked Tyrone Woods to put the potential winning run on base.

But Yamil Benitez, who had homered against Jimmy Haynes earlier, bounced into a tailor-made double play to end the drama.

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