As far as clutch outings go, David Hess’ was downright historic.
The Orioles’ No. 10 prospect took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Saturday as Bowie advanced to the Eastern League Championship Series for the first time in team history with a 3-0 blanking of visiting Altoona.
Hess (1-0) retired 17 of his first 18 batters, issuing just a two-out walk to Erich Weiss in the second. The stretch — and the no-hit bid — ended when Adam Frazier singled with two outs in the sixth. The 22-year-old right-hander ended up allowing one hit and two walks while striking out three over seven innings in his first career playoff win.
“Based off his last start, I was expecting a good start,” Baysox manager Gary Kendall said. “He exceeded what I was expecting, but I was expecting him to go out there and compete like he did. To carry a no-hitter as deep as he did against a good hitting club, I didn’t expect that.”
Hess made two starts for the Baysox at the end of the regular season, going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA, after spending most of the year with Class A Advanced Frederick. He and other newcomers are the story of the season as Bowie won its first playoff series since joining the league in 1993.
“Sometimes in the Minor Leagues with promotions you lose integral parts,” Kendall said. “That’s part of the business. The key was losing a Terry Doyle, Elih Villanueva, Mychal Givens, to supplement it with guys from our organization that came up from Frederick — Hess, Drew Dosch, Chance Sisco, [Chris] Lee, those guys got us here.
“The young talent in our system got us here. Hats off to our development, not only the guys we sent to Norfolk but the guys we got from Frederick and [Class A] Delmarva.”
A day after launching a pair of homers and driving in a career-high six runs, Quincy Latimore hit another as Bowie scored all of its runs on long balls. Orioles No. 13 prospect Mike Yastrzemski and Garabez Rosa slugged the others in the series clincher.
Latimore, a nine-year Minor League veteran, joined the Baltimore organization in the offseason and, after batting .217 in April, turned things around. He shared the league lead with 20 homers.
“He’s been clutch probably from the latter part of June on,” Kendall said. “He’s a kid that was targeted by myself and [former hitting coach] Butch Davis last year. He was with Harrisburg, he was a tough out for us last year. During the offseason, we talked to Quincy and found out that he would like to sign with Baltimore. He started the season here and it didn’t go as well as expected, but he persevered. He worked through some things and turned in an outstanding year.”
After blowing a 7-0 lead in the series opener, the Baysox limited the Curve to three runs over the final three games, tossing two shutouts in the process. The Game 1 loss could have been devastating to a team that had been 65-0 when leading after eight innings.
“Walking into that clubhouse, it was real quiet,” Kendall said. “Going into the next day, our guys just believed they could score runs and that we were better than how that last inning evolved.”
Bowie will head to Reading for Game 1 of the best-of-5 Championship Series.