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Big Train steamroll Grays 14-2 to take 1-0 semifinal lead

By:Quentin Corpuel

After rain delayed the start of Monday’s contest, the Big Train dominated the Grays 14-2 in seven innings to take a 1-0 series lead in this best of three Cal Ripken League semifinals. With a win Tuesday, the Big Train can close out the Grays and advance to the League Championship Series.

Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) celebrates his first-inning homer with third base coach Galvin Morris. 

The Big Train opened the game white hot at the plate in the bottom of the first, starting with a Grant Knipp (Campbell) RBI triple off the top of the center field wall, scoring Darius Foster (San Francisco) from second. The next batter, Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) laced an RBI double into the right center field gap, scoring Knipp from third. Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) capped it off by annihilating a 2-2 curveball that passed almost halfway up the light tower in right center field to make it 4-0 Big Train. 

In the bottom of the second, Danny Neri (Notre Dame) knocked in Keith Torres (Sacramento State) from third on a sacrifice fly to center field. Later in the inning, after stealing second, Foster scored when the Grays catcher overthrew third trying to gun him down. This extended the Bethesda lead to six runs through two full frames.  

The Grays finally got on the board in the top of the third with an RBI fielder's choice, but the Big Train responded in the bottom half of the inning, starting with a Trevor Doyle (Sacramento State) sacrifice fly that scored Alderman from third. Later in the inning, with runners on the corners, Foster launched his first homer of the summer over the right-center field fence to make it 10-1 Bethesda. 

The Big Train continued to pour it on in the bottom of the fourth, starting with a Schanuel sacrifice fly to make it a ten-run ballgame. A few batters later, Danny Neri (Notre Dame) scored Alderman and Knipp with a two out single to left center to make it 13–1 Big Train. The Grays tacked on a run in the top of the fifth on a solo homer. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Schanuel collected another RBI – his fourth of the night – this time scoring Alderman all the way from first on a double to left. That would be the final run of the evening, bringing the score to 14-2. 

The Big Train’s offensive explosion was due in large part to the stellar hitting performances by Foster, Schanuel and Neri. Schanuel finished the evening with four RBIs and Foster and Neri each collected three. Alderman collected three hits.

Grayson Hitt (Alabama) struck out four across 4 2/3 innings in the Game 1 victory.

On the mound, starting pitcher Grayson Hitt (Alabama) struck out four Grays and allowed only one hit in 4 2/3 innings of work. After four scoreless outs from Cooper Rons (UC Santa Barbara), Matt Howat (William & Mary) shut the door in the top of the seventh with two strikeouts. The game ended after seven due to the Cal Ripken League's run rule, with the Big Train leading by at least 12.

Game 2 of this best of three series continues on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. back at Shirley Povich Field. The Grays will be the home team for Tuesday night's contest. Tickets are available here

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