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Preview: Roster Depth Plays Advantage in Big Train's Road Trip

By:Grant Cohen
Justin Morris (Maryland) takes an at-bat against Rockville

Once outfielder Zach Jancarski (Maryland) hammered a home run in his first Big Train at-bat, Bethesda followed his offensive spark by hitting .354 as a team against Rockville on Saturday.

 

After falling short in two straight contests, the Big Train were aided by their full-strength roster and the additions of Jancarski and Justin Morris (Maryland) allowed Bethesda to get back on the winning track with a 10-run victory at Shirley Povich Field.

 

“It’s a solid team,” infielder Logan Driscoll (George Mason) said. “I don’t think we really have any holes, obviously. If some people aren’t getting hits right away, the other people will pick them up. We’ll just replace each other.”

 

Both Jancarski and Morris took time off after Maryland fell to West Virginia in the Winston Salem Regional in the NCAA Tournament on June 4. Morris said that his focus during those days was primarily on rest, mixing in a few non-baseball workouts in the process.

 

After arriving to Bethesda on Friday, Jancarski was inserted into the leadoff spot while playing centerfield and Morris was inserted in the eighth spot of the batting order in addition to playing first base, his secondary position. While Jancarski shined offensively, hitting 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI, Morris led the charge defensively.

 

The Edgewater, Maryland led the Big Train in putouts with 10 without committing an error, helping the defense force Rockville to hit .161.

 

“I think it helps that Zach and I are older guys,” Morris said. “We have a lot of experience and we can help some of the younger guys stay loose out here. (We are trying) to set a good example for them.”

 

Along with the Maryland additions, another pair from a college baseball powerhouse made contributions to the Big Train’s victorious path. Austin Keen (Kentucky) pitched two innings of relief in his debut after arriving in Bethesda at 10 p.m. on Friday, striking out two batters and only allowing one hit.

 

Luke Heyer (Kentucky) also adds depth in infield positions, already having played in three games after joining the team earlier this week. The Lithia, Florida native compiled 17 hits and three home runs with 12 RBI in 37 games for Kentucky, with him and Keen leading the Wildcats to the NCAA Super Regional against Louisville.

 

“The experience is valuable. Everybody wants to do that, to compete at that kind of level,” Heyer said. “If there’s any way that can benefit me and influence other guys on the team come playoff time here, than that will definitely be beneficial in that way.”

 

Starting week three with a five-day road trip, the Big Train’s depth will play a key factor in the upcoming games. Sunday’s game against the Loudoun Riverdogs will be a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m., the Big Train’s first back-to-back series of the season.

 

The Riverdogs are coming off a 9-6 victory over the Herndon Braves on Saturday, ending a three-game losing streak. Despite only getting six hits, Loudoun drew eight walks and that resulted in eight runs batted in.

 

Piling together a .382 batting average and stringing together 13 team hits, the Big Train overcame a six-run deficit in the final two innings in their first meeting with the Riverdogs on June 12.

 

“To be able to have a lot of guys that can come in and play at different times and produce, it’s really beneficial on our team,” Heyer said. “Obviously we have a lot of arms and stuff like that. Especially with days like today, when our starter (AJ Jones) can go six innings, it’s really good for su because we’re a really loaded team.”

 

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