Early runs and solid starting pitching were not enough for the Big Train Wednesday night in an 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Redbirds.
“We just got to make sure that we don’t take our foot off the gas,” Logan Driscoll (George Mason) said. “I mean we get off to an early lead and kind of sit back and against a team like this we can’t really do that.”
After opening up an early 5-0 lead, the Big Train bullpen faltered late, allowing four runs in the eighth inning before the Redbirds’ Lael Lockhart Jr. hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth.
Starter Blake Sanderson (FAU) turned in a stellar outing, going four innings of one-hit ball along with one walk and two strikeouts. Sanderson, who was rocked in his last outing against the FCA Herndon Braves, was composed throughout and delivered his best start of the season.
“I was getting ahead of batters and just attacking my fastball and just kind of make them swing the bat,” Sanderson said.
While Sanderson was phenomenal on the mound, the Big Train bullpen became an issue. The staff was short on arms after a long stretch of games, forcing the Big Train coaching staff to use guys like outfielder Matt Green (St. Mary’s) and newcomer Matt Pulos (California State – Stanislaus) in critical situations.
While the loss was disheartening, the Big Train offense did show up early in the game, unlike most games this year.
In a four-run second inning, the Big Train jumped on the Redbirds early courtesy of a Michael Emodi (Creighton) sac fly, a Garrett Kueber (Austin Peay) RBI single and a two-out, two-RBI single from Driscoll.
James Outman also added a solo home run in the third inning – his ninth of the season.
“It’s always nice to come out and play good against a team like this,” Driscoll said after going 2-for-4 on hte night. “Recently I’ve been kind of struggling so it was nice to come out here and get some good results.”
The loss, which ended an eight-game winning streak, pushes the Big Train’s record to 21-7 but keeps them on pace with the South Division leading Alexandria Aces, who fell in the first game of a doubleheader against the Loudon Riverdogs Wednesday.
“Just to still remember to not be too comfortable when you’ve got the lead,” Outman said of what the Big Train can take from a game like Wednesday's. “And just know that the team can always come back so you just got to keep piling it on.”
The Big Train head back home to Shirley Povich field Thursday to face the Baltimore Dodgers. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.