I’m sure everyone who’s ever played baseball, has imagined themselves getting the big hit to win a game. Through all 280 games of Sean Nicol’s professional career, the Senators’ utility man extraordinaire had never realized that dream before late Sunday afternoon when he delivered the dramatic, walk-off single to give Harrisburg a 5-4 victory over the Bowie Baysox in 11 innings.
Despite being no-hit for the first 7.1 innings, the Senators kept plugging away when they erased a three-run deficit in their ninth inning at-bats. A couple of timely errors by the Baysox and a game-tying double by Jose Lozada over the leftfielder’s outstretched glove sent the game into extra innings.
The Senators would set the stage in the 11th with two outs thanks once again to another Baysox error (their fifth on the day) and Brian Goodwin’s infield single. That brought Nicol to the plate with a chance to be a hero and he laced a single into left-centerfield that scored the winning run and brought out a dogpile at first base that he had never experienced from that perspective before. “Going around the base I gave a little mini-fist pump waiting for it to come,” Nicol said, “I just hit first base and turned around waiting for it because I didn’t want to get trampled since I’m not the biggest guy.”
Manager Matt LeCroy paid Nicol possibly the highest compliment you can when he summed it up, “He’s a ballplayer…He just knows how to play the game.”
Player of the Game: Sean Nicol
From the Windup
• LeCroy on his team that has shown through four games that it just won’t quit, “They believe they have a chance to win every ballgame. When you have that type of group it’s fun, because you’re never really down even when you are.”
• As Ricky Hague easily beat out the infield single in the eighth inning, somewhere Rhademes Liz was probably popping the cork on a champagne bottle. No, not really. But Liz remains the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Senators when he accomplished the feat as a member of the Baysox on June 1st, 2007.
• With Matt Skole’s imminent trip to the disabled list, the Senators will activate Jerad Head who was signed this off-season after compiling a .270 lifetime batting average in the Cleveland Indians organization.
• Hitting coach Eric Fox’s advice on hitting a knuckleballer like Bowie starter Eddie Gamboa who mixes in low 90s fastballs: “You can’t be sitting on a knuckleball. It got a couple of us in trouble because it makes the fastball look like 100. So, Melvin (Dorta) and I were telling guys that when you’re facing a knuckleballer you’ve got to look for the one that’s shoulder high.”
• Despite only making three starts the past two seasons over 62 appearances, Caleb Clay looked solid taking the hill on Sunday afternoon for the Senators. In retrospect, LeCroy said he should have taken Clay out after the fifth inning when his pitches were starting to elevate. But instead he went back out there to start the sixth and allowed hits to the first three batters before getting the hook. Those last three batters (who all ended up scoring) makes Clay’s line look a whole lot worse than it actually was.
• Nicol will be remembered as the offensive hero, but he also should get credit for the great turn he made on a 5-4-3 double play that ended a Baysox threat in the top half of the 11th. “In that instance it was a high chopper and he (Rendon) had to get rid of it. He gunned it at me which is great because it gave me a little bit of time,” Nicol detailed the play, “That’s something we work on through spring training. That’s something we work on here before every game. So, practice helps.”