MMLN – Defense Bites B-Mets

Bowman's natural talents are coming out

NEW BRITAIN, CT – Following Saturday's night game in which Binghamton's ninth inning came up short, the club hoped to rebound on Sunday with a victory before heading to Bowie for a three-game set. The B-Mets jumped out to a 4-0 lead through 5 ½ innings, but leaky defense and faulty pitching lost the lead down the stretch as they fell 6-5 . However, the game ended on a very peculiar play.

Shawn Bowman will continue to gain more and more attention as he tears through Eastern League pitching. He ripped his first two doubles with Binghamton and is now 8-for-21 [.381] in six games with the club--and he got his money's worth on both knocks.

In the second inning, he took a first-pitch fastball and drilled it deep to the left-center field gap, showing tremendous balance and explosion through the zone. In the top of the sixth inning, against facing New Britain starter Ryan Mullins, he took an inside slider and ripped a line drive over the third base bag. Bowman may still be regaining his natural strength following his multiple back surgeries, but he demonstrates the patience and execution in the box that should breed him into a serious power threat in the future. He keeps his weight back and arms steady through the zone allowing him generate a quick, powerful stroke.

Bowman's natural position is at third base, but he is seeing time at first base in a move to limit any beatings his still rehabbing back could take on the hot corner, and to fill in when Mike Carp starts in the outfield. Though he is on the other side of the diamond, he still flashes the quickness and reaction time that make him such a weapon at third base. Looking leaner than he has in previous years, Bowman is worth keeping an eye on every day he is in the lineup.

Eric Brown has been fighting with consistency throughout the season and though he took a no decision on Sunday, he did execute parts of his game that led to success in St. Lucie in 2007. He struck out four of the first six batters he faced, setting up hitters with his fastball [which sat 87-89 on the afternoon] and then painting the left-hand corner of the plate with his slider. Control certainly has not been a pain point for Brown who for the fourth straight appearance walked zero hitters, and has issued just four free passes in his last 36 1/3 innings.

His success is determined almost entirely by location and when he does not control the lower third of the zone, he runs into trouble as he will not blow pitches by many hitters. Such was the case in the sixth inning of Sunday's game when his pitches started to elevate and hitters got their best contact of the afternoon.

However, Brown's exit from the game was expedited by two high-bouncing, mishandled balls by Jose Coronado and Anderson Machado. Both errors [which were originally ruled hits and remained so until after the game], would have shortened the inning, extended Brown's outing and perhaps prevented the Rock Cats any opportunity to come back late in the game.

Brown did make a very fine play in the third inning. On a very high bouncing ball, reminiscent of a "Baltimore Chop", he back-peddled down the slope of the mound, barehanded the ball and fired to first for the out.

Josh Petersen drove in what looked to be an insurance run when he smacked a RBI triple off the right field wall in the 7th inning. It was his third triple this season [second with Binghamton], and now in 54 games with the B-Mets in 2008, he is hitting .325 [53-for-163] with 19 RBI.

Joe Hietpas had the unenviable task of coming into a one-out, bases loaded jam in the seventh inning after Edgar Alfonzo loaded the bases by hitting one batter and walking two more. Nonetheless, Hietpas buckled down and mixed his slider and fastball well enough to strike out the next two hitters to end the 7th inning. However, he was on the wrong end of a hotshot off third baseman Jonathan Malo's glove in the 8th inning, then walked a batter and gave up two runs, setting the stage for New Britain's ninth inning rally.

Anderson Machado briefly silenced the rally, and the crowd, when with bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth, he made a diving play on a chopper over Tim Lavigne. He stabbed the ball between the mound and the second base bag, collected himself and fired an off-target throw up the line, but Salvador Panigua made the catch and a good, sweeping tag to prevent the game-winning run from scoring.

As for that peculiar play, the very next batter hit a routine ground ball to Coronado which seemed destined for an inning-ending double play. However, after getting the out at second, Machado's relay throw struck the umpire—who was seemingly out of position in the baseline just about 20 feet from the first base bag—in the leg, causing the ball to trickle away and allowing the game-winning run to score.

To the ire of the fiery Shawn Bowman, Lavigne, Machado, manager Mako Olivares and pitching coach Ricky Bones, the game was over but not before all parties expressed their opinions about how the game ended to the exiting umpire.

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