By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
A PERFECT STORM — not named Gustav, Hanna or Ike — was gathering in the week leading up to Labor Day, and its full force blew into Bowie, Maryland recently.
Nolan Reimold recorded a 3-home run, 8-runs-batted-in outing Thursday, leading the Bowie Baysox to an 11-3 win over the Akron Aeros in Game 2 of the Class AA Eastern League’s Southern Division playoffs.
A former Kennedy Catholic High 2-sport standout and Bowling Green University All-American, Reimold, in reaching the seats three times, became the 1st Baysox ’baller to do so in a playoff game. Ditto for his franchise postseason record 8 ribbies.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve hit three home runs in a game. I just went up there and things went right for me,” Reimold said of his round-trippers on the Baysox’s web site. “Hopefully, I can keep this going throughout the playoffs. I’ve just been feeling good at the plate and getting good pitches to hit (and) I’ve been able to capitalize on them.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been in this kind of groove,” continued the 6-foot-4, 207-pound outfielder who hit 9 homers in a 10-game span. “I’ve been feeling really good. So as long as I can keep my swing going through the playoffs I’ll be happy.”
Corny, perhaps, but the bashful Reimold refused, initially, to acknowledge fans’ curtain call following his 1-out, 8th-inning grand slam, but admitted, “ ... someone pushed me (out of the dugout).”
Reimold’s remarkable night culminated what has proven to be a banner bounce-back season for the 24-year-old, who missed most of 2007 owing to an oblique injury. However he was assigned to the high-powered Arizona Fall Instructional League, and after a slow start this past spring, the righthanded-hitting Reimold has been reunited with his swing.
In 139 regular-season games he batted .284, and his 144 hits included 29 doubles, 3 triples and 25 home runs. He scored 87 runs, drove home 84, and for a middle-of-the-order hitter (.501 slugging percentage) Reimold had a more than respectable ratio of drawing 63 bases on balls compared with 82 strikeouts.
Reimold related a preview of this power surge with a 5-homer, 9-RBI, 7-runs scored, 7-game outburst to conclude the regular-season campaign when he batted .320 and was chosen Bank of America’s Eastern League player of the week for Aug. 26.
“He’s swinging well, just like we like to see him swing it,” acknowledged Baysox hitting coach Moe Hill on the team’s web site, regarding Reimold. “He’s been working on a few things, like getting his hands started earlier. It’s starting to pay off. He’s made some minor adjustments recently. He struggled for a while, then started coming in for some early work, and he’s been able to put it together.”
In the Aeros’ 6-2 Friday night win, Cleveland Indians’ DH Travis Hafner, on an injury rehab assignment, hammered a grand slam to right-center field before being ejected later, according to the web. Akron also has burgeoning star Matt LaPorta — acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in the trade for CC Sabathia — in its lineup.
The Baysox, the Baltimore Orioles’ AA affiliate, qualified for the playoffs for the 1st time since ’97, butBowie bowed to Akron 5-1 Saturday and was ousted 3-1 in the best-of-5 series.
By Ed Farrell