By Connor Newcomb
HANOVER, Md. - The Baltimore Dodgers and Herndon Braves were locked in a tight battle until the seventh inning, when the Braves finally got the big hit they needed.
After a leadoff triple from center fielder Michael Kuzbel (Columbia), catcher Ciaran Devenney (Delaware State) jumped all over a 1-2 curveball, clubbing it over the left field wall and giving the Braves a 5-3 lead.
Herndon would go on to win the game 6-5, improving to 5-4 on the season, while the Dodgers dropped to 2-7.
Despite Braves leadoff hitter Brett Norwood (South Florida State) reaching on a single and coming around to score to start the game, the Dodgers quickly battled back. After two walks and an infield single loaded the bases with nobody out in the third inning, Nick Ortega (Creighton) blasted a two-run double to left field to give Baltimore the lead.
The Dodgers added one more in the inning, but the Braves would strike right back. Back-to-back RBI singles from Nick Wheeler (Grambling State) and Conner Hall (Marymount) tied the game at three, but Dodgers starter Mark Watson (Jackson State) worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam to keep the score tied.
After tossing seven innings of one-run ball in his last start, Watson lasted only four innings in this one, giving way to RHP Connor Reeves (Salisbury) in the fifth after striking out five batters and allowing only two earned runs. Reeves allowed three runs over four more innings, including what turned out to be an important insurance run in the eighth.
After Colin Bergh (Villanova) homered to left field to cut the Braves lead to one in the seventh, Herndon added one in the eighth on a Kyle Benjamin (UMBC) sacrifice fly. Coming around to score was Wheeler, who made it into scoring position on an error earlier in the frame.
Baltimore continued to fight, scoring once in the bottom of the eighth on an Austin James (State College of Florida) RBI single, but couldn’t get the tying run across in the ninth. Joey Ortiz reached second base on a one-out error, but the Dodgers could not drive him in off Braves reliever Garrett Lutkins (Chesapeake College), who picked up the save.
The Dodgers will be back in action Thursday night on the road against the Bethesda Big Train. First pitch of that game is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field in Bethesda, Maryland.