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Championship Preview: Familiar Foes set to Battle Once Again

By:Brendan Feeney
The team celebrates after a walk-off victory against the Redbirds on July 15.

Unlike basketball, and even football to an extent, baseball is almost impossible to predict. The worst team can beat the best on any given night and no one truly knows who will match up in the championsip.

Except for in the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League.

Even during the first matchup way back on June 10th, everyone knew that they were watching a championship preview between the Baltimore Redbirds and the Bethesda Big Train. And why not, considering these two teams have combined to raise the last seven league championship trophies.

While the Redbirds were victorious on June 10th, the team's evenly split their four games this season. The Big Train outscored Baltimore 16-13 during those four ball games, but boding well for the Rebdirds (who have home-field advantage) is the fact that the home team is 4-0. The last two games ended in walk-off fashion.

Baltimore and Bethesda swept their respective semifinal matchup after receiving a first-round bye, but did so by different circumstances.

The Gaithersburg Giants had no answer for the potent Big Train offense as Bethesda scored 26 runs in the two games, compared to just eight from the Giants.

Meanwhile, the Redbirds came back from two early deficits against the Herndon Braves and needed 10 innings to clinch their spot in the finals.

On the mound for Bethesda in the series opener will be right-hander Logan Gilbert (Stetson). GIlbert finished the season with a 3-0 record and posted an ERA of just 1.70. He struck out 28 batters in 26.1 innings of work while limiting oppenents to a batting average of just .149.

From the offensive side of the plate, no one has been hotter than Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State). In just two playoff games, Esposito has registered a .625 batting average, four runs scored, four RBIs and two home runs. 

Michael Emodi (Creighton), Allen Smoot (San Francisco), Logan Farrar (VCU), Justin Morris (Maryland) and Cody Brown (Mississippi State) each collected at least three hits as well. Farrar, Emodi and Brown accounted for a home run apiece during the two games and the Creighton catcher leads the playoffs with five RBIs.

Esposito and Smoot finished first and second respectively in the league in RBIs this season.

Paving the way for the Redbirds' offense in their two-game sweep over the Braves was Jake Mueller who hit 4-for-7, walked once and accounted for three runs. Kyle Datres led the league with a .378 batting average during the regular season.

The two teams held the top two spots in the league in runs, hits, batting average, ERA, batting average against and most importantly, wins.

The first team to notch two more victories will be the 2016 CRCBL Champions, becoming the first team in the league's history to win five CRCBL Championships.

Game one will be played at the home of the Redbirds, Calvert Hall, with the first pitching coming at 6 p.m. Povich Field will play host to the middle game of the series and, if necessary, the third and final game will be back at Calvert Hall on Saturday.

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