06/15/2022 11:12 PM
The Bethesda Big Train offense had one thing on its mind heading into their Wednesday night matchup with the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts: hit the ball and hit it a lot. And hit it they did. 15 hits led to a dominating 11-2 win and moves Bethesda to 6-1 on the 2022 season.
Wednesday night's offensive output was something the coaching staff had been looking for in the season's first six games. Up until Wednesday night, Bethesda has struggled to score with runners in scoring position in the season's early stages. But they came through against Silver Spring-Takoma.
“There was a lot of emphasis on two strikes. I feel like that's where we've struggled the past couple of games. When it’s gotten to two strikes has kind of been an automatic out,” coach Sam Bender said.
The players believed the mental approach was the main difference in Wednesday's onslaught.
“I think that we were all getting a little too big in the box,” Jason Schiavone (James Madison) said. “We all wanted to be the big guy on the team. We didn't need to be and we changed our approaches.”
Big Train jumped on the Thunderbolts in the top of the first. Sean Lane (Maryland) ripped a clutch two-out double to score TJ Rogers (Austin Peay State) to ensure the Big Train didn't waste a promising start to the game. Baylor Cobb (Louisiana Tech) followed Lane's double with a two-run single to put the Big Train up 3-0 right away. Lane had three RBIs in Wednesday’s tilt bringing his season total to six.
And later, after going 0-for-6 in his last three games, Schiavone got in on the action with a two-run home run to left in the sixth to give the Big Train a 9-2 lead. It was the team's first home run of the season.
Ryan Sanders (St. Mary’s (CA)) made his second start on the mound for the Big Train and became the only pitcher this season to pitch at least five innings. He finished the night with five strikeouts and a now has a 3.60 ERA on the season.
“He’s giving us great innings,” Bender said. “He's not just out there to throw and eat up innings. He's out there putting up zeros and that's the best part about it.”
While the story of the game was the offense, the defense also came up clutch. Three outfield assists held the Thunderbolts to only two runs. With the game in the balance early on, Schiavone combined with second baseman Emilien Pitre (Kentucky) and catcher Cobb on a perfect relay to nab Thunderbolts catcher Casey Gibbs at the plate to end the second and get Sanders out of a jam and limit the damage to just one run. Another came in the bottom of the eighth, when Schiavone caught a fly to right off the bat of Ryan Cuadros and then fired a missile home to nail Ryo Fabre at the plate for the double play. No relay partner was needed on that one.
While Schiavone starred on the field and at the plate, Rogers also had an excellent night. The sophomore infielder was 3-for-4, with three runs scored, two walks, and an RBI single.
The Big Train bullpen also clamped down in the later innings. Kai Burdick (San Francisco) and Todd Mozoki (James Madison) combined to pitch four shutout innings to close out the blowout victory.
After Wednesday night, the Big Train aim to make it three wins in a row when they take on the D.C. Grays at Shirley Povich Field on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
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