06/11/2023 9:49 PM
WASHINGTON, DC – The Big Train beat the D.C. Grays, 15-2, in seven innings on Sunday evening in the teams’ first matchup of the 2023 season. With their road win, Bethesda moved to 5-2 and D.C. fell to 1-4. As it stands, the Big Train leads the Cal Ripken League’s North Division, one game ahead of the Gaithersburg Giants. This is the team’s second mercy rule win in two days and their third of the season.
Bethesda avenged last season’s 6-1 loss against Grays starter Kai Cummings, this time slapping 11 hits and scoring 10 runs on him over 5.1 innings, a considerable improvement from their one-hit loss against Cummings in 2022.
Jeffery Heard (Sacramento State) had a day in the batter’s box, finishing 4-4 with four hits and a HBP. He was responsible for seven of the Big Train’s 15 runs, racking up four RBIs and three runs scored. The designated hitter got the scoring started when he launched a three-run bomb to deep right in the first inning, scoring Dixon Williams (East Carolina) and Connor Rasmussen (East Carolina).
Heard described his approach in the batter’s box during this standout performance. “Same as always, trying to get a good pitch to hit,” tonight's DH said. “Trying to keep it in the middle of the field.”
On the mound, Brandon Clarke (Liberty) delivered a strong start for the Green and White in his first appearance of the season, spinning two strikeouts in the first frame and ending up with three overall. The second-year Big Train player didn’t allow any hits or runs in the first two innings, his only two of the game, thanks to his nasty breaking ball.
“I just tried to go out and attack hitters early,” said Clarke. “Be confident, have fun, and leave my team off on a good note.”
The Big Train extended their lead with five runs in an explosive third inning. A pair of RBI singles by Dean Toigo (Cyprus College) and John Long (North Carolina) kicked it off before Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic) drove in Toigo and Long with a double.
D.C. answered with a run each in the third and fourth innings, bringing the score to 8-2. But with the Grays threatening for more runs in the fourth, Phelps scooped a grounder before tossing it to Rasmussen who slung it to Jason Schiavone (James Madison) at first to complete the inning-ending 4-6-3 double play and squelch the rally.
Bethesda continued to stay hot at the plate in the sixth inning, scoring another five runs while batting around. The Big Train tacked on two more runs in the seventh.
Every player had a hit in this 16-hit game, with Williams, Rasmussen, Heard, and Phelps all smacking multiple hits and tallying multiple RBIs.
Pitchers Skyler Hutto (Alabama), Evan Marcinko (UNC Wilmington), and Austin Morris (Alabama) also contributed on the bump, yielding a combined two runs on only six hits over their five innings of work. Marcinko stood out, finishing perfect against the six batters he faced.
It was a complete team performance, something the team’s star hitter of the day noticed.
“Obviously, we put up 15 today, so the whole team got to see the ball in play,” said Heard. “Pitchers did a good job minimizing runs, so pretty much everything [was] clicking on all cylinders for the team. Everyone’s playing for each other, and I think that’s a good thing that will keep us going for the rest of the season.”
The Big Train hopes to continue their strong play back at Shirley Povich Field when they take on the Southern Maryland Senators at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 12.
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