Senators outlast Bowie 5-4 in 13 innings

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Jaron Long flirted with perfection into the sixth inning, but it took extra-inning heroics for the Harrisburg Senators to notch the 5-4 win over the Bowie Baysox. With the victory, the Senators swept their second straight series and pushed their current winning streak to six games.

Shawn Pleffner led off the 13th inning with a single, his third hit of the day, off Bowie reliever Genison Reyes. After Stephen Perez was inserted to pinch-run for Pleffner, Brian Jeroloman dropped a sacrifice bunt down that first baseman Joey Terdoslavich threw away allowing Perez to race all the way to third base. A batter later, Rafael Bautista lifted a sacrifice fly into center field to score Perez easily with the game-winning run.

Harrisburg (21-20) had jumped out to a four-run lead with a pair of early two-run innings. On the front end of a double steal, Bautista stole third base and eased home when Chris O’Brien’s throw bounced into center field. Chris Bostick followed with a two-out single that scored Isaac Ballou from second and doubled up Harrisburg’s lead. In the fourth inning, a single by Pleffner and doubles by Jeroloman and Bautista increased the Senators’ advantage to 4-0.

Long retired the first 16 batters he faced before Drew Dosch lined a double into left-center field with one out in the sixth inning. The 24-year-old right-hander was efficient and in control for most of the game. In 6.2 innings, Long allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out six.

“He was very good at getting ahead in the count,” Jeroloman said about is starter. “Anytime you get hitters in defensive mode on 0-1, 0-2, 1-2 counts, it really puts them in a defensive stance and they’re not taking an aggressive swing.”

Manager Matt LeCroy had nothing but praise for Long: “He has really good poise and savvy on that mound.”

“His change-up is extremely effective,” Jeroloman said. “It’s a hard pitch to conquer as a pitcher and he executes it and has a ton of confidence in it whenever the game’s on the line. He can throw it in any count.”

Long ran into trouble in the seventh when he allowed a base hit and walked two that loaded the bases to end his day. Bowie shortstop Adrian Marin greeted reliever Wander Suero with a single that scored two inherited runners to spoil the shutout bid and pull the Baysox within 4-2.

Suero allowed another Bowie run in the eighth inning before acquiescing to Bryan Harper. With the tying run on first base, the lefty induced a 1-6-4-3 double play on his first pitch and a lazy fly ball on his fourth to get out of the jam. But the ninth was a different story for Harper who got the first two outs of the inning before O’Brien launched a solo homer into the Senators’ bullpen to tie the game up at 4.

Bowie and Harrisburg traded zeroes into the 13th inning as John Simms threw four scoreless innings of relief. Simms (2-2) allowed two hits and walked one while striking out one in earning the victory.

Jeroloman and LeCroy are both impressed with Simms and his conversion to an effective reliever. “He’s really taken to it really well. He’s one of those pitchers that likes to throw everything and as a reliever you can. You do whatever it takes to get outs,” Jeroloman said.

“What I’m impressed with is he’s throwing the ball over the plate. He’s getting soft contact and letting his defense play,” the skipper said.

The Senators host a four-game series with the Portland Sea Dogs, class AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, beginning on Monday evening at 7 p.m. Harrisburg will send Tyler Mapes to the bump looking for their seventh win in a row against Portland’s Aaron Wilkerson.

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