06/05/2023 11:07 PM
LORTON, VA – The Big Train topped the Metro SOCO Braves, 11-5, on Monday evening for their third straight win to start the season. What began as a back-and-forth battle ended in a decisive Big Train road victory. Evan Marcinko (UNC Wilmington) got the win for Bethesda, while Ryan DeMartin got the loss in what was the Braves’ first game of the year.
With 11 runs on Monday, the Big Train’s strong offensive start to the season continued. In fact, across their first three games of the 2023 season, Bethesda has outscored their opponents 42-12. The team’s 42 runs are the most through three games to open a season since 2018, when they scored 48.
The Green and White struck first in the bottom of the second thanks to a passed ball that scored Dean Toigo (Cyprus College). SOCO quickly equalized in the bottom of the inning with a score off of a fielder’s choice.
The Braves held Bethesda scoreless in the third through fifth innings, but tacked on three runs of their own to take a 4-1 lead.
But the Green and White stormed back in the sixth inning, scoring four runs to retake the lead. Doubles from Zeb Ruddell (LSU) and Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic) spearheaded the offensive production in the stanza, which also saw five different Big Train players reach base.
Despite the deficit, Toigo had a feeling the Big Train would reverse the deficit. “I was just staying confident, I had no doubt about us,” said Toigo of his approach in the batter’s box. “We got a good group of guys, and I had full confidence that we were going to come through.” Toigo finished 2-4 with two runs scored, including the first run in the team’s sixth inning rally.
While the Big Train were their own worst enemy in committing two critical errors on one play to allow the Braves to tie the game in the seventh, Bethesda overwhelmed Metro SOCO’s late game-pitching, adding six more scores between the eighth and ninth innings to run away from the Braves.
Ryan Ertlschweiger (JMU) got the start for the Green and White, with Davion Hickson (Florida State), Marcinko, and Austin Morris (Alabama) all seeing time on the mound. Hickson and Morris both made their Big Train debuts, pitching one and 1.2 innings respectively. Marcinko had a strong appearance, striking out four out of the nine batters he faced.
“It felt really good to be back out there again,” said Marcinko, who is in his second season in Bethesda. “I didn’t throw much during the regular season, but I have a lot of history with these guys…so I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
In the early part of the game, a series of wild pitches and passed balls proved to be costly for both teams, leading to multiple runs, which in addition to other sloppy defense, was something Big Train Manager Sal Colangelo took notice of.
“Across the board we had some unfortunate mistakes, but we got guys that are right now playing their hearts out that are playing out of position…so I’m not disappointed. I love the effort.”
Colangelo also described the unique challenge of recentering after a blowout like the team’s 21-2 win over the T-Bolts on Sunday.
“You know, anytime you play a game and you beat someone 22 to whatever it was, you got to come back the next day and you got to make sure the guys stay focused, play the game right, and have the quality at bats that they need,” said Colangelo.
The manager dismissed any concerns about Chris Hacopian’s (Maryland) health, since the shortstop exited the game after the fifth inning due to an apparent injury. Colangelo noted that Hacopian was only pulled for “precautionary” reasons.
The Big Train look to maintain their winning ways on Tuesday as they return home to Shirley Povich Field to take on the Alexandria Aces at 7 p.m., a rematch of the 2022 and 2021 league championship series.
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