06/18/2021 8:41 PM
Bethesda Big Train held a 6-5 lead over Gaithersburg in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Giants mounted a rally.
Two Giants reached first and second base with just one out. Soon after, they drove home three pivotal runs in the inning to force the Big Train into their first deficit of the game at an 8-6 margin.
The late-inning misstep proved to be the deciding factor the rest of the way, as they fell 8-6 to the Giants on the road. The loss is Bethesda’s second defeat of the young season. Despite the letdown in the late innings, Bethesda still remains atop the league, a game and a half ahead of the second-place Alexandria Aces.
In the opening stages of the matchup, the Big Train almost tallied the first run of the game in the top of the first inning, but to no avail. With one out and no one on base, Darius Foster (San Francisco) crushed a ball through the air down the right field line to award himself a standing double. However, he was stranded there and the scoring opportunity was gone in a flash.
It wouldn’t take long for Bethesda to get going offensively, though, as the Big Train strung together a few successful at-bats in the top of the third inning. After Keith Torres (Sacramento State) led off the inning with a walk, Danny Neri (Notre Dame) put runners on the corners with a single with no outs. Austin Gauthier (Maryland) followed up with a hard ground ball that was bobbled by the Giants’ second baseman, which bought Torres enough time to reach home plate to give Bethesda its first lead of the evening. Foster rounded out the inning with another fielders’ choice to give the Big Train the early 2-0 lead.
Big Train’s starting pitcher Brock Guffey (Alabama) controlled the pace of the game in Bethesda’s favor. The left-hander waltzed through three innings and surrendered just one hit to maintain the Big Train’s two-run advantage on the road.
Bethesda continued to put the pressure on the Giants in the top of the fourth. Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) started the inning with a single up the middle of the field and quickly advanced to second base because of a balk from Giants’ starter Xavier Marmol. Soon after, Grant Knipp (Alabama) cracked a single into left field to put runners on first and third. Brady Gumpf (Notre Dame) capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to deep left field to drive Peppi home to push Bethesda’s lead to 3-0.
After the Giants got a run back in the fourth, it would be a newcomer of the Big Train roster that swiftly regained the Bethesda’s previous three-run lead in the top of the fifth. In his second at-bat with the team, Danny Neri (Notre Dame) rocketed a ball to center field and over the wall for a solo home run to gift the Big Train a 4-1 advantage on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning.
After Neri’s solo shot added some much needed insurance, Bethesda began to rally behind its offense to break open the game in the same inning. Gauthier made it to first base, while Foster singled to put runners on first and second with no one out. The red-hot Thomas came through once again with runners in scoring position, and smacked a single into center field to drive home Gauthier to give the Big Train a four-run lead.
Even though the Giants recorded another run in the bottom of the fifth inning to bring the score to 5-2, the action remained quiet up to the bottom of the seventh.
The Giants rallied against Cone to flick the switch on their comeback effort, as the Big Train’s pitcher gave up three runs in the half inning to make the game tied at five. However, the tide quickly turned in the Big Train’s once more in the top of the eighth.
Thomas immediately swung at the first pitch thrown to him and sent a high-flying ball towards left field and over the wall, giving Thomas his league-best fourth home run of the season and the Big Train a one-run lead once again.
Despite the clutch home run from Thomas, the Giants abruptly went on to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning, piling on three runs to take a two-run lead heading into the final heading.
The two-run deficit proved too much for Bethesda to overcome, as the Big Train didn't score in the top of the ninth and fell to the Giants, 8-6.
The Big Train will be back at Povich Field Saturday for a doubleheader against the Alexandria Aces. The first game starts at 4 p.m.
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