Big Train hold off Thunderbolts 5-3

By:Bennett Solomon
TJ Rogers bats in the Big Train's win over the SST Thunderbolts.


In the sixth inning of Tuesday night's game, Ryan Sanders (St. Mary’s (CA)) stared down the signs from catcher Jason Schiavone (James Madison). Schiavone signaled for a fastball, and Sanders nodded. Coming set, he picked up his right leg and hurled a high fastball to strike out Nathan Waugh of the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. 

After the ball popped in the glove, Sanders yelled with emotion, pumping his fist while staring at the Thunderbolts' dugout, and walking to his own to embrace high fives from his teammates and coaches. Sanders had just struck out his 10th batter of the night, his last in six innings of work at Blair High School in Silver Spring, Md. Six innings, ten strikeouts, no hits, and just three walks. It would have been greedy for the Big Train to ask for anything more.

“I just like to compete,” Sanders said. “I like to go out there and do my best every time. It’s just me getting fired up a little bit and showing some emotions to get the game going.”

In his fourth appearance of the season, the southpaw of Moraga, CA, was stellar on the mound once again, earning his third win of the season in the Bethesda Big Train’s (14–3) 5-3 win over the Thunderbolts (5–11). In 21 innings this season, Sanders has only given up 11 hits while striking out 28. His ERA is an impressive 1.71 with a WHIP of 0.81. Like it's been so often this season, the Big Train pitching has put them in a position to win. It was up to the offense to finally cash in.

After leaving 15 runners on base and being shutout in a disappointing loss Monday night, the Big Train wasted no time getting on the scoreboard Tuesday scoring four runs in the top of the first.

Garrett Felix (Nicholls State) got the scoring started, knocking a RBI single into left field to plate DM Jefferson (Notre Dame). After another run scored thanks to a Schiavone HBP, Warren Holzemer (Virginia Tech) came up to the plate with the bases loaded.

On a first pitch fastball, Holzemer ripped a two-run single into left field, scoring Felix and TJ Rogers (Austin Peay State) to give the Big Train a 4-0 lead. Hitting coach Sam Bender said the approach tonight was to shorten up and make contact. 

“Good things happen when we put the ball in play,” Bender said. “Especially with a runner on third with less than two outs, that’s our job. That’s our biggest emphasis right now, especially with two strikes."

However, the Bethesda offense went quiet after the first while Sanders was busy keeping the Thunderbolts' offense off the board during. After Sanders departed, the bullpen had to work to secure the team’s 14th win of the season.

Multiple walks in the seventh inning from Erik Ritchie (East Carolina) caused problems, allowing the Thunderbolts to cut the Big Train deficit to just one after a Beck Urofsky RBI single and bases loaded walks to Calvin Brown and Chandler Moeller. Marcus Dux (Virginia Tech) relieved Ritchie, got out of the seventh, and pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out three in 1.2 innings of work.

Leading 4-3, Bethesda was in need of insurance runs heading to the eighth and the offense delivered with Felix scoring on a misplay by the SST defense to pad the Big Train lead to 5-3. 

Luke Baker came on in the ninth looking for the save. He allowed a hit but struck out three to help the Big Train lock down the win.

“It was nice to get out there and get us another win,” Baker said. “The guys put up some runs early and they handed it off to us so we finished the job. Couldn’t be more happy.”

Tuesday night was a solid team effort and a good way to bounce back from Monday's night's loss to the Metro SOCO Braves. Next, the Big Train will host the Southern Maryland Senators in an exhibition game Wednesday at home at 7 p.m.


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