Big Train falls to Cropdusters in high-scoring affair

By:Jacob Cheris


The Bethesda Big Train has had to come from behind frequently this season. Game 1 of the team's abbreviated doubleheader against the Cropdusters on Thursday was no different. The Big Train found themselves down 13-12 in the bottom of the eighth inning.That was the situation they were in when the game was initially suspended due to darkness on Jun. 17 in Olney. And that is what the situation was when the game restarted on Thursday night at Shirley Povich Field.


Kaleb Woltz (San Francisco) was in a tough spot as the game restarted. The Cropdusters had the bases loaded and Woltz was unable to hold them as the Cropdusters got two runs on a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly to make it 15-12. 


The Green and White put pressure on the Cropdusters in the top of the ninth. They had traffic on the basepaths and had the tying runs on base when DM Jefferson (Notre Dame) pinch hit with two outs. When he drove the ball over the centerfielder’s head, it looked like the Big Train had a chance to tie the game. 


However, a perfect relay throw from Cropdusters’ shortstop Greg Nichols was in time to nab Baylor Cobb (Louisiana Tech) at the plate, ending the game and giving the Cropdusters a 15-14 victory. 


But before the resumption of the suspended game, the initial affair on Jun. 17 was a back-and-forth rollercoaster. 


Brandon Clarke (Alabama) got the start for the Big Train but struggled to find the strike zone early and was pulled after two innings. He struck out three, but walked four and gave up four runs in the first. 


Bethesda slowly started to claw back into the game. The Big Train scored three runs over the course of the next three innings to make it a one run game at 4-3. 


Luke Baker came in for Clarke to start the bottom of the third and pitched two scoreless innings, giving the Big Train a chance to take the lead. And in the top of the sixth, they did.With the bases loaded and one out, TJ Rogers (Austin Peay State) came up clutch with a two-run RBI double to put the Big Train ahead, 5-4.


But Bethesda did not stop there. After the Cropdusters made a pitching change, Peyton Schulze (Long Beach State) stepped up to the plate with one out and two runners on and knocked a two-run RBI single bringing Luke Nowak (ECU) Nowak and Rogers home to make it 7-4. 


By the end of the inning, the Big Train’s lead had grown to 9-4 and the game seemed in control.


But the Cropdusters showed off their offensive chops in the bottom of the sixth. Cropdusters centerfielder Kavi Caster brought the game back to a three-run deficit with a two-run homer. 


The Cropdusters continued as first baseman Michael Bouma hit their second two-run homer of the inning, to again tighten the game to one run, 9-8.


Both teams could not find a way to hold each other’s offense in check. Bethesda maintained its lead heading into the top of the seventh, and added two more insurance runs to make it 11-8. 


In the bottom of the seventh inning, things started to unravel for the Big Train. Merritt Beeker (ECU) struggled mightily, giving up four runs on four hits. A critical moment in the game came on the second error for the Big Train. 


Rogers fumbled a ground ball which could have resulted in a double play. The Cropdusters took advantage, scoring five runs to take a 13-12 lead. 


This was the highest scoring game for the Big Train so far, but a lack of control on the mound and poor defense put the team in a position they could not recover from when the game restarted on Thursday night. 


The coaching staff expects the team to continue to improve defensively as the summer goes on. If the Big Train want to successfully defend their title, they need to compete and trust the process the coaching staff have preached since the season began.


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