2019 CRCBL Pitcher of the Year -- Chase Lee
Date: Aug 13, 2019
By Matt Cohen
GAITHERSBURG, Md. – Reggie Terry is accustomed to winning.
He spent time as an assistant with the Bethesda Big Train where deep playoff runs and championships are the norm.
But Terry wanted a new challenge.
He left the Big Train to take the head coach job with the DC Grays, an organization without the glamour and resources littered around Shirly Povich Field.
He wanted to build a culture for a team that didn’t have one.
“When you’ve had success and you build success, it’s expected,” Terry said. “What I had to do is come to the organization, work with the people within the organization to try to build a winning team. We’ve taken a little longer than I expected, but I am satisfied with where we are today.”
Though in five years leading the Grays, there is one thing Terry had done. He hadn’t done what has become an afterthought with the Big Train, win a playoff game.
On Thursday night, Terry finally got over the hump.
The Grays scored in each of the first four innings to take a six run lead. That was all the cushion Cam Fowler (Nebraska-Omaha) needed on the mound as the Grays won the first playoff game in team history, a 6-5 victory over the Gaithersburg Giants.
Terry has one of the most balanced teams in the Ripken League. The talent from the lineup to the pitching staff sets this team apart in Terry’s eyes, and why this was the team that finally got a playoff win.
But even with the improved talent Terry has across the board, his team hasn’t been without challenges. The Grays didn’t had a losing record in the regular season, and entered the playoffs without two of their best players. Justin Wylie (Lousiana-Lafayette) is out with an injury and Reid McLaughlin (BYU) moved to the Cape Cod League.
McLaughlin’s absence left Fowler as Terry’s choice to start the playoff game.
Fowler hadn’t seen the mound since his July 18 start against the Giants. In that game Fowler allowed 10 runs in 1.1 innings as the Giants 15-1.
Coming off his worst outing of the summer, Terry still had full confidence starting Fowler in a single-elimination playoff game and against the same Giants team.
“He has thrown well throughout the season,” Terry said. “I expected Cam to come in and do a very good job. We had a very good game plan, between he and the catcher they executed it.”
In an elimination game, Fowler bounced back with seven innings holding the Giants to just one earned run.
DC’s first run came on a passed ball, before rattling off four earned runs on Nick Parker (Coastal Carolina) in two innings. Four different players drove in each of the four runs. Bryan Call (BYU) scored two of the five early inning runs.
The Giants slowly chipped into the deficit including a Cade Doughty (LSU) no-doubt home run. The Giants had three more hits than the Grays, but weren’t able to drive in their base runners, stranding eight base runners and hitting into three inning-ending double plays.
Gaithersburg did score two in the top of the ninth and put the tying run on base, but head coach Jeff Rabberman’s team wasn’t able to come all the way back.
The Grays advance to face the No. 2 seed Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. The No. 6 seed Aces upset the No. 3 seed Braves to face the top seeded Big Train.
The Grays have blown three different late inning leads against the T-Bolts this season. But with Fowler’s seven inning start, the bullpen is fresh.
Though an injury to star two-way player Austin Deming (BYU) in the ninth inning against the Giants could hurt the bullpen, taking away the team’s closer, as well as one of the better bats.
Semifinal games will begin Friday night, with Bethesda and Silver Spring hosting the first game of their respective series. The semifinals are a best-of-three series.