Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay)
Following Monday’s encouraging 11-1 win over the Loudoun Riverdogs, the Big Train appear to have found help from other hitters and shored up the pitching staff.
“I don’ think we’re really a star oriented team,” assistant coach Galvin Morris said after the win. “People may think we are, but our role players are just as important as our star guys.”
If Monday proves to be a microcosm of what’s to come, players like Luke Heyer (Kentucky), Justin Morris (Maryland) and Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay), all of whom had multi-hit games against the Riverdogs, could represent a core that can take some of the offensive load off Outman and Driscoll and show the firepower this Big Train roster is capable of.
“It’s the same cliché – one game at a time,” Galvin Morris said of keeping the team in rhythm. “We’re just trying to get ready, get on a streak before playoffs start. Just one game at a time.”
The Big Train’s game Wednesday against the FCA Herndon Braves represents another chance for Heyer, Morris and Kueber to continue the necessary offensive advancements the Big Train need in order to contend for a second-straight Cal Ripken Collegiate League title.
“It’s nice after two tough losses that we finally can beat a team by a pretty fair amount of runs,” Heyer said. “And offense is going again so definitely with a off day, rested, we’ll be good to go come Wednesday.”
Herndon enters the contest at 10-11 and third place in the CRCBL South Division. The Braves, who took the previous contest against Bethesda 6-0 on June 16, have struggled of late. They have gone 4-6 in their last 10 games, while giving up an average of 6.5 runs per game over that stretch.
For the Big Train pitching staff, the Herndon matchup presents another opportunity to strengthen the middle of the bullpen and continue getting starters deeper into games.
After a pitchers and catchers only meeting after a blowout loss to the Baltimore Dodgers on Sunday, Ken Waldichuk (St. Mary’s) went five innings giving up eight hits, two runs and struck out two in the win against Loudoun. Waldichuk, Ty Madrigal (St. Mary’s) and Stephen Schoch (UMBC) have been the class of the pitching staff so far this season, but only Madrigal will likely pitch Wednesday.
“It’s been a process and I think we’re doing well and whatever we had we’re getting out of it and we’re looking good,” Madrigal said. “We’re playing good ball right now.”
Madrigal, who will reportedly come out of the bullpen against the Braves, has gone at least five innings in each of his three starts this season while sitting third in the league in ERA (1.05).
“I’ve been just trying to take care of business and really reduce the amount of pitches and make good pitches really,” he said.
The Elk Grove, CA native will back up projected starter Blake Sanderson (FAU), who enters the game at 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in three starts this summer. Sanderson has been solid when called upon but has only gone more than three innings once this season, a 6-1 win over the Braves on June 6 in which he threw five innings and gave up one earned run.
Provided Sanderson gives a strong outing and the offensive output continues, Monday’s win, coupled with an off-day Tuesday and Wednesday’s game at Herndon, could prove to be a crucial turning point this season for the Big Train.
“It’s a grind going six days in a row and stuff,” Heyer said. “So it will be nice to get some rest and then everybody will get going again.”