When James Outman (Sacramento State) takes his approach in the batter’s box, he does not worry about the opposition.
Friday’s matchup against the D.C. Grays showcases a matchup that forces the Big Train and the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League to pay attention.
Coming off CRCBL Player of the Week honors, Outman leads the league in batting average with a .453 mark and knocking out the league’s best five home runs. D.C. outfielder Will Johnson sits right behind Outman in batting average, hitting .405 to start the season.
“I can’t think too much about who I’m playing against,” Outman said. “For hitting, you have to do it yourself. It doesn't matter what the other guy does, so I’m not thinking about (the matchup) at all.”
Along with blasting his fifth home run of the summer season, Outman added a double and a triple with four RBI. The Redwood City, California native was only a single away from completing a hitting cycle in the Big Train’s 500th overall win.
Outman is currently on a five-game hitting streak, compiling multiple hits in four of those contests. The Big Train hold a 5-2 record when the 6 foot 3 inch outfielder has racked up two or more hits.
“He stays in the zone so well,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “You can tell he’s been taught very well at a young age and in college. He’s smart, he’s got a great approach at the plate, sees the ball very well and does what he needs to do.”
The Big Train silenced Johnson’s early season spark in Bethesda’s home opener on June 8. With the Eastern Kentucky player heading into the game with a .500 batting average, the Big Train struck out Johnson twice and did not allow a single hit in his three at-bats.
Without Johnson’s offense, the Grays managed to only collect six hits that gave the Big Train the 5-4 win.
“I think, as always, it’s about first pitch strikes, pounding the zone and not getting behind so that he feels comfortable in the batter’s box,” pitcher Jack Alkire (VCU), who got the win on June 8 with four strikeouts in three innings pitched, said. “That’s always (the key) to every batter you face.”
Johnson’s eight-game hitting streak was busted on Thursday against D.C.’s 4-3 defeat to the Rockville Express on Thursday. While most of the 6 foot junior’s hits are composed of singles, he has been efficient at getting on base this season with .552 on base percentage.
In half of the Grays’ games, Johnson has tallied at least two hits or more.
“(We have) to keep the hitters ahead of him off base so that he doesn’t have any opportunity to do any damage,” Alkire said.
Bethesda heads into D.C. ranked as the No. 18 summer collegiate team in the country, according to Collegiate Summer Baseball. The Big Train knocked off the No. 8 Alexandria Aces on Thursday 8-2 in Alexandria, Virginia and will play the Grays at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy on Friday at 7 p.m.