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Preview: Big Train Looking to Avoid Letdown Against Thunderbolts

By:Ben Portnoy
(Left to right) Kirk Sidwell (Stetson) and James Outman (Sacramento State)

The cliché of home field advantage has rung far from true for the Big Train this year. But entering a three game home stand, the offensive woes endured at Shirley Povich Field for much of the season have seemingly disappeared over this week’s road trip.

 

“I think the guys just come out everyday and just work as hard as they can, take it inning by inning,” outfielder Zach Jancarski (Maryland) said.

 

In the past three games the Big Train have averaged 8.67 runs per game through added run support from less prominent players like Luke Heyer (Kentucky), Kirk Sidwell (Stetson) and Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay). The trio combined for nine hits in 21 at bats over that stretch.

 

“You can put them in the lineup anywhere and it doesn’t drop off,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “It doesn’t matter who’s hot, who’s not.”

 

Jancarski has also evolved into a star for the Big Train of late after going 13-for-37 in his first 10 games with a home run and seven RBIs.

 

“I’m just trying to keep the same approach I’ve had all year long going back to school,” Jancarski said. “Just trying to take good swings on the ball, not trying to do too much and just get on base as much as I can ‘cause I know the middle of the order is really good and once I get on good things are going to happen.”

 

Following Thursday’s 9-0 win over the Rockville Express, the Big Train sit at 16-6 overall and 6-5 at home. By contrast, Bethesda’s real strength has been their domination on the road as they are 10-1 away from home.

 

“Just focus and concentration and do the little things and we’ll be okay,” Colangelo said of what the team needs to fix their woes at home.

 

As for their opponents, the Thunderbolts come into Friday’s matchup at 8-15 and last place in the North Division. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games and had lost seven in a row before their win over the Giants on Thursday.

 

However, the Big Train have struggled against teams at the bottom of the standings this season. Two losses to the Baltimore Dodgers, who sit fourth in the North, and a miracle comeback against the Loudoun Riverdogs, who are last in the South, stand out as some of those disappointing results.

 

“Like I said all along, just coming in, not taking the game for granted, respecting the game and everything will be fine,” Colangelo said of how to avoid another disappointing loss.

 

John Murphy is the projected starter for the Big Train on Friday. The Merchantville, NJ native is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts this season. His last outing came June 24 against the Redbirds.

 

“I’m pretty positive going into the weekend,” Jancarski said. “I think we’re going to turn out just fine.”

 

First pitch from Shirley Povich field is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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