John Simms walks a tightrope to victory in precarious second inning

Samuel Getty / Harrisburg Senators

Harrisburg starter John Simms impressively worked through the top of the potent Bowie batting order in the first inning recording all three outs via strikeouts. But things started to unravel quickly for the righthander in the second frame.

Eastern League veteran Garabez Rosa led off the inning with an eight-pitch at-bat that culminated in a flare over the outstretched glove of second baseman Stephen Perez. Glynn Davis followed with a bunt that caught the Senators off guard with Perez late to cover first base.

The next batter, Adrian Marin, laced a single back up the middle that chased Rosa home from second base to give the Baysox a 1-0 lead. Bowie appeared on the verge of breaking the game wide open with a big inning. Reliever Ryan Brinley got up quickly in the Senators bullpen and started throwing with a purpose.

Simms struck out Jay Gonzalez to record the first out of the inning although it came at the cost of nine additional pitches. Erick Salcedo followed with a pop-up into shallow left field that Ozzie Abreu tracked down moving away from the infield dirt.

Despite settling down to record back-to-back outs, Simms got a visit from pitching coach Chris Michalak. Deep counts and tough at-bats had the 25-year-old quickly approaching the 40-pitch per inning limit imposed by the Nationals. If Simms were to hit that number, manager Matt LeCroy would have no choice but to remove him from the game regardless of the situation.

And coming to the plate was the hottest hitter on the Baysox, D.J. Stewart, who was already 6-for-10 in the series with a home run and two doubles. Simms fell behind 2-0 before getting Stewart to ground out to end the rally on the 35th pitch of the inning, a full count breaking ball. “I got out of there and I was just thankful I didn’t have to turn it over to the bullpen too early,” Simms said.

“That was a big inning,” LeCroy added. “It could have gotten pretty ugly, but he only gave up the one.”

Buoyed by the change of momentum, Harrisburg responded in the bottom half of the inning with a run-scoring double off the bat of Raudy Read and an RBI groundout from Spencer Kieboom to give the Senators a 2-1 advantage.

Pitching with the lead, Simms made some adjustments as he breezed through the next three innings facing the minimum number of batters. “I’m just happy to have gotten out of that inning when I did and then after that it was just going back to attacking them,” the Rice product said. “I got back into the zone and forced the action.”

Brinley and Phillips Valdez each worked two scoreless innings of relief to preserve the slim margin of victory as the Senators topped the Baysox in the rubber match of the series.

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