Tyler Villaroman winds up before singling during the Big Train's 5-1 win over the Braves on Friday.
The Bethesda Big Train (24-4) continue their weekend home stand Saturday, looking to keep the Baltimore Redbirds (21-6) from tying the series at two games apiece.
After the Big Train took the series lead with a 7-4 win in Baltimore and a 9-2 win at home, the Redbirds won one 5-1 in Baltimore—a result of defensive miscues and a sluggish offense from Bethesda.
Heading into Saturday’s game, the Big Train are riding a four-game winning streak, their only loss in the last seven games being a 7-6 loss to the Baltimore Dodgers in game one of a double header.
Big Train’s offense, led by Alec Burleson (East Carolina), who leads the league in batting average (.478), home runs (8) and RBIs (33). Including Burleson, six players are hitting over .330: Justin Wylie, Carson Taylor (VA Tech), Bryan Diaz (Nova Southeastern) and John Glenn (Cal Baptist). Wylie also has the second-most homers, with six, and the third-most RBIs (17).
While Bethesda’s offensive leaders have helped propel the team to its first-place record, they aren’t the only players contributing big-time. Outfielder Tyler Villaroman (San Francisco) has gone 5-8 in his last two games, hitting a .319 average. In the Big Train’s win Friday, he recorded his third home run of the year, a two-run shot over the left-field wall that gave Bethesda the early lead. On Thursday against the Riverdogs, Villaroman’s heads-up base-running allowed him to score after stealing second, taking third and coming home on two over-throws from Loudoun.
For the Big Train on the mound, left-hander Brock Guffey is likely to get the start. Guffey enters with a 2-0 record and 1.58 ERA in 17 innings pitched. In his last appearance, an 8-0 win over the Rockville Express in game two of a double-header, Guffey gave up two hits and two walks, striking out five.
Guffey will likely be matched up against Justin Campbell (1-0, 2.75 ERA). The Baltimore lefty went four innings in his last start, striking out two and walking two but giving up no hits or runs. Before that, Campbell pitched 2/3 of an inning in relief against the Big Train, giving up two hits and striking out one in the 9-2 Bethesda win on June 26.
At the plate, Carl Gindl and Anthony Servideo lead the team in batting average, with .409 and .384, respectively. Baltimore has four players batting over .330, including Gindl and Servideo. Only one Redbird has more than five home runs, Joe Zirolli (7), who also leads the team in RBIs with 24.
It will be key for all of the Big Train’s lineup to contribute if Bethesda is going to win, and minimizing errors is imperative against a Baltimore team with a .380 on-base percentage (for reference, Bethesda’s on-base percentage is .416).
Though playoffs aren’t for a few weeks, the Big Train’s magic number to clinch their playoff berth and win the South Division is three. If the Big Train win their next three games, they clinch. If they win their next two games and the Herndon Braves lose to the Alexandria Aces and the Express in the next two days, Bethesda clinches.
First pitch agaisnt the Redbirds is set for 7 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field. It’s Alumni night, with a pre-game ceremony for former players, staff and interns.