06/14/2021 10:01 PM
With Bethesda Big Train leading 3-1 in the top of the second against the South County Braves, their lineup didn’t have to connect on many hits at the plate to break the game open on the scoreboard.
Grant Knipp (Alabama), Brady Gumpf (Notre Dame) and Kyle Velazquez (St. Mary’s CA) all worked walks against Braves’ pitcher Danny Rosenfield to kick off the inning for Bethesda. With the bases loaded and just one out, Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) took a pitch in the upper back to bring in the fourth run of the day for the Big Train. Soon after, with two outs and the bases still full, Jack Cone (William & Mary) and Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) mimicked Schanuel’s tactics, as they got clipped by consecutive pitches to force home two more runs in the inning.
Bethesda plated three runs on no hits in the top of the second inning, pushing the Big Train’s lead to five. The advantage was too much to overcome for the Braves, as Bethesda eventually took down South County on the road, 15-3, to improve to 4-1 on the season. The Big Train maintain their top spot in the Cal Ripken League after moving to 2-0 against the Braves this year.
Big Train started off this one with a bang in the top of the first, as Austin Gauthier (Maryland) rocketed a solo home run to dead center field on the first pitch of the game to give Big Train a 1-0 lead. It was Gauthier’s second homer of the season, this one coming at his old high school field, in what has been a quick start to the 2021 campaign for the future Terp.
Bethesda wasn’t finished building its lead in the opening inning, however. Schanuel was hit by Rosenfield, which then set up the red-hot Matt Thomas (William & Mary) at the plate. Thomas cracked a single into left field to put runners on the corners. Schanuel eventually made his way home from third base while South County’s defenders were occupied tossing the ball back-and-forth in between first and second base, unsuccessfully trying to catch Thomas in a rundown.
After Thomas made his way to third base on a passed ball, Alderman didn’t waste another Bethesda RBI opportunity at the plate. He lined a single into left field to bring home Thomas and push Big Train’s lead to 3-0 before the Braves’ pitching staff could record the opening three outs of the game.
Despite South County’s quick response with a run of its own in the bottom of the first, Bethesda swiftly regained its previous margin on the scoreboard and then some.
The Big Train went on to score the three pivotal runs in the top of the second inning to extend their two-run lead to a healthy 6-1 advantage on the evening.
The Braves dug into Bethesda’s lead with another one-run inning in the bottom of the second inning, but the high-scoring action resumed in the top of the fourth inning for Bethesda.
Schanuel started off the inning with a single up the mound and through the hole, then Thomas sent a moonshot over the wall that sits 360 feet from home plate for a two-run home run to stretch the Big Train’s lead to 8-2. Trevor Doyle (Sacramento State) joined the party and nailed an RBI single of his own to drive home Cone to give Bethesda a seven-run advantage with its third three-run inning of the night. A sacrifice fly later rounded out the rest of the inning, as a Gumpf fly ball into the outfield extended the lead to 10-2.
Big Train’s consistent success at the plate carried over into the top of the fifth, when Velazquez reached base with a single to open the inning. Thomas then rattled off his third hit of the day, a single to drive home Velazquez to push Bethesda’s run total to 11.
With Big Train clobbering the Braves’ pitchers at the plate, Bethesda starter Grayson Hitt (Alabama) did a fantastic job managing the game on the mound. In his first start this season, Hitt tossed five complete innings and surrendered just one hit and two runs. He recorded three strikeouts in the outing en route to the road victory.
Bethesda tacked on another run to push the lead to double-digits in the top of the sixth, then it added one more run on Thomas's fourth hit of the night in the top of the seventh to make it 13-2. Alderman capped off the game with an exclamation point later in that inning, smashing a two-run home run to push the score to 15-2 in favor of the Big Train.
Zach Locke (Long Beach State) pitched two innings in relief and closed out the Braves to finish off the win.
The Big Train take on the Braves at Shirley Povich Field Tuesday at 7 p.m. to complete the second half of a home-and-home series.
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