Luke Adkins (Mississippi State) singles in the winning run.
Top Ten Thursdays is a weekly bigtrain.tv show that highlights the top 10 games in Bethesda Big Train history, as voted on by team historian Bill Hickman, manager Sal Colangelo and founder Bruce Adams. As each game is unveiled, we will bring you a written flashback here in on bigtrain.org.
Host Alex Drain, with the help of Colangelo and various guests, will break down each game, as those involved discuss what they remember and the significance of each contest. Each episode will serve as a flashback to classic moments in Big Train history, in lieu of actual games during the 2020 summer.
Today, we look at Game #8, from July 10, 2009 against Youse's Maryland Orioles.
The Big Train hosted Youse’s Maryland Orioles to a packed house for this battle between the top two Ripken League teams.
The two teams had developed an ongoing rivalry: Bethesda took the Ripken League regular season title in 2005 and 2006 and the Orioles took it in 2007 and 2008. Their competition continued in 2009, with Big Train only two games ahead of the Orioles on July 10.
The Orioles took flight early, going up 2-0 in the top of the first against Big Train starter Seth Hester (Southern Mississippi). Big Train responded quickly in the bottom of the inning to bring the score to 2-1, when Eli Boike (Michigan State) singled and then scored on an Oriole error.
After a solo homerun in the third extended the Orioles’ lead, Jarrod Parks (Mississippi State) drove in Boike on a single to cut the deficit to 3-2. Parks came through again in the sixth inning, this time in the field, when he made the defensive play of the game, and possibly of the year, diving into left field with full extension to make a catch just inches off the ground.
“I had to get every bit of distance I could to make it to this ball,” noted Parks. The play energized the team and set the stage for a late rally.
The Big Train finally evened the score in the bottom of the seventh on an double by Danny Stienstra (San Jose State) which scored Boike once again, in fitting fashion. Nolan Rudman (Ventura College) entered in the eighth to take over for Hester and went on to pitch four no-hit innings.
With neither team’s pitchers caving, the game went to extra innings.
Bethesda started the 11th inning with a Connor Bernatz (San Francisco) single. He advanced to second on a wild throw, and then to third on a sacrifice bunt. After two intentional walks, Luke Adkins (Mississippi State), the leading hitter in the Ripken League at the time, found himself up to bat with one out and bases loaded. He drove the ball over the right fielder, and the crowd went wild as Bernatz crossed home with the winning run.
The 4-3 victory moved the Big Train three games clear of the Orioles, and they went on to win the regular season title. The team carried this momentum into the postseason, as they captured their first-ever outright Ripken League postseason championship.
“2009 was the most memorable summer of my life. That team was so fun, and we were so close, such a tight knit bunch... We played with so much enthusiasm,” Parks said.
Tune in to bigtrain.tv this Thursday, July 2, as we highlight Game #7.