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Bowie earns first Eastern League championship in team history

Reading, holding a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five Eastern League title series, called over to the Bowie clubhouse manager before Game 4 on Friday and asked whether the Fightin Phils could buy Bowie's champagne and beer. The Baysox politely declined the request.

In the end, the Double-A Baysox were smart to keep the drinks, because they needed them. Bowie easily won that fourth game and rolled to another victory in the decisive Game 5 on Saturday night. Garabez Rosa homered twice and drove in three runs while Nick Additon provided four innings of stellar relief as the Baysox locked up the first Eastern League championship in the team's 23-season history with a 7-2 victory over Reading at Prince George's Stadium.

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Bowie manager Gary Kendall said the team had plenty of motivation heading into Game 4 and acknowledged that it might have raised a few eyebrows a bit. This team desperately wanted to win the first championship, and this just gave the Baysox some extra motivation.

"That kind of sparked our guys a little bit," Kendall said. "I thought that was a little confident."

The Fightin Phils should have waited a bit. In Saturday's game, Rosa hit a two-run homer in the fourth that gave Bowie a 2-1 lead, and he added a solo shot in the sixth against starter Reinier Roibal (0-1).

Rosa hit just four homers in the regular season, but added three in just nine playoff games. He was named the Most Valuable Player for this series and batted .385 overall in the two playoff series.

"I was happy to help the team win," he said through teammate Marcel Prado. "I was doing the same approach, more relaxing and having fun and playing the game hard."

Bowie's pitching held Reading to three runs over the final two games. Game 1 starter Joe Gunkel, going on three days rest, lasted four innings and gave up just one run but appeared to tire late.

Additon (3-0) came on in the fifth and gave up one run on one hit in four innings — on two days rest. The run came on a home run by Rene Garcia that cut the lead to 3-2 in the seventh before Bowie added two runs apiece in the seventh and eighth.

Additon craftily used his off-speed pitches, especially the changeup, to shut down an aggressive Reading lineup. He worked with the fastball a lot in winning Game 2, but changed strategies Saturday — and it worked.

"All I wanted to do was go out there and do anything that I could to help the team win," the left-hander said. "Nine years in the minor leagues and this is my first championship. Couldn't have been more fun. I loved every minute of it."

So did Mike Yastrzemski, who went 2-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI on Saturday and batted .406 in the playoffs after struggling at times in the regular season. He appeared to be in the middle of everything for Bowie in this series.

In the playoffs, "you lost focus of numbers," he said. "You lost focus of production. You lost focus of anything else in the game except for winning, and that lets you loosen you and that lets you be free."

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette even came down to watch the festivities. He clearly enjoyed seeing the way the Baysox came through under pressure and the fun they had.

"You have to learn how to win," he said. "I think it's important for the culture of winning. Winning begets winning."

And now the Baysox have finally won it all for the first time. Bowie had never even won a playoff series until beating the Altoona Curve in four games in a league semifinal two weeks ago.

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But the celebration rumbled on for a long time in the Bowie clubhouse Saturday night, with smiles all around. That champagne and beer got put to good use.

"It's been 23 years," Kendall said. "But for the Oriole organization, our players and now coming back next year, we can beat on our chest a little bit because … we won us a championship."

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