06/10/2022 10:39 PM
With two outs in the top of the 7th inning, Garrett Felix (Nicholls State) stepped up to the plate with runners on second and third base. Leading 3-2, Felix had the chance to give the Bethesda Big Train needed insurance runs. He didn't waste time. On the first pitch, Felix roped a fastball up the middle, scoring Trey Winget (St. Mary’s) and Jason Schiavone (James Madison) to give the team a 5-2 lead, which would hold up.
The Big Train only had four hits in the game and Felix’s single proved to be the biggest, helping the Big Train (3-0) defeat the D.C. Grays (0-4) Friday night.
“I was trying to be on time for a fastball and hit something up the middle,” Felix said. “It worked out. I’m glad it did.”
Entering the seventh inning, the game was knotted 2-2 before the Big Train took the lead for good. Three walks from the Grays gave Baylor Cobb (Louisiana Tech) an opportunity to give Bethesda the lead. He came through, hitting a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Colton Hegwood (Louisiana Tech), which proved to be the deciding run.
Felix would come up later in the inning and come through with his single to tack on.
Those late runs made sure the Big Train did not waste another strong pitching performance from the whole staff. Ryan Sanders (St. Mary’s) started on the mound and pitched five impressive innings, striking out six and only giving up one run in his first outing of the season.
“I kind of had everything working,” Sanders said. “Changeup was working. Getting ahead with the fastball, especially with the slider in to the righties and lefties.”
The pitching staff has struck out 58 battes so far this season in 35 innings and had an ERA of 1.80 before tonight’s game. Kai Burdick (San Francisco) and Andrew Johnson (Maryland) pitched in relief of Sanders starting in the sixth. Burdick pitched two innings out of the pen, giving up two hits and one earned run while striking out two.
In the final two innings, Johnson, who had just joined the team after Maryland was ousted in the NCAA Touurnament, took the ball. Despite struggling with his control at the start of the eighth and walking three batters, he rebounded and struck out three Grays. He added two more strikeouts in the ninth to close it out and earn a six-out save.
“I think every one of our guys goes out and competes,” Sanders said. “Really solid defense behind us and even if you give up a run the bats will come alive at some point and back you up.”
Bethesda opened the scoring in the top of the first inning. Sean Lane (Maryland) brought in Emilien Pitre (Kentucky) on an RBI groundout to make the game 1-0.
The Grays would tie the game in the bottom of the fourth when Aaron Thomas hit a solo home run over the left field fence.
The Big Train would respond immediately in the top of the fifth after Schiavone showed some impressive baserunning. He was hit by a pitch to start the inning, but flashed his speed when stealing second and third base on the same play. Eventually, he would come in to score on a wild pitch to give Bethesda a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the 6th, a passed ball allowed the Grays to knot the game at two apiece.
Bethesda wasted no time responding in the top of the seventh, with the help of Cobb and Felix. The 5-2 score would eventually hold, keeping the Big Train undefeated to start the season.
“Our pitchers are shoving right now,” Felix said. “Hitters are starting to come alive. We’re just going to keep the hot streak and keep going.”
Up next, the team will host the Alexandria Aces Saturday at 7 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field.
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