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Big Train Bring CRCBL Championship Back Home

By:Brendan Feeney
LCS Most Outstanding Plater Vinny Esposito (Sac St.) hit .550 in the playoffs.

It felt long overdue.

The Baltimore Redbirds have long been a thorn in the Big Train's side. In 2012, they halted Bethesda's quest for four consecutive championships and went on to win four straight of their own -- all over the Big Train.

After Logan Gilbert (Stetson) and Sean Barry (San Diego), with the help of a five-run Big Train first inning, paved the way to a victory in the series opener, the Redbirds responded.Trailing 5-3 in the sixth inning, Baltimore scored three runs. When the Big Train answered with a run to tie the game, the Redbirds retook their lead and hung on to a 7-6 victory.

With an 0-3 record at Calvert Hall in 2016 added to Baltimore's momentum following their game-two victory, it appeared the Big Train's championship-less streak could be on the path of extension. Making things tougher for Bethesda, the Redbirds jumped out to an early lead with a first-inning run.

Then in the fourth inning the status quo changed when Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State) was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before advancing to third on a Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State) double off the centerfield wall.

Cody Brown (Mississippi State) then laced a single to capture the Big Train's first lead of the game.

Michael Emodi (Creighton) and Garrett Kueber (Moorpark) kept the inning alive with a two-out single and walk respectively, loading the bases for Austin Hale (Stetson). Hale roped a clutch two-out, two-run single down the left field line extending Bethesda's lead to 4-1.

Johnny York (St. Mary's) threw six strong innings of two-run baseball before handing the ball over to his college teammate Drew Strotman (St. Mary's). Strotman allowed the Redbirds to close the gap with one run in the eighth inning and let the lead off batter, and potential tying run, to reach base in the ninth.

Sal Colangelo trusted his pitcher. With no one warming up in the bullpen, Strotman recorded the first out on a sacrifice bunt. He then geared down and stuck out the final two batters of the game as his teammates mobbed him on the mound to celebrate their title.

Esposito was named the LCS Most Outstanding Player after hitting .550 with two home runs, seven RBIs and scoring seven times.

The Big Train are now the only CRCBL team that boasts five league championships.

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