06/30/2023 8:53 PM
Bethesda, MD – The Big Train overtook the Metro SOCO Braves, 5-2, in game one of Friday’s home doubleheader. Zeb Ruddell (LSU) honored the Big Train’s mascot “Homer” during his 24th birthday celebration by smashing a two-run home run.
The center fielder was pleased to hit his first home run of the summer. “It felt great. I've been struggling a little bit here of late,” said Ruddell. “I’ve just kept grinding in at-bats, so to come up with it was a good thing.”
He was also excited to tribute “Homer” on his special day, excited to be playing in front of a large home crowd here for the game and the Big Train’s usual festivities. “It's awesome for the fans to come out and support a summer team. You know, usually summer ball doesn’t get this many people. It’s cool.”
After retiring the side in the first inning, starting pitcher Patrick Galle (Ole Miss) faced a jam in the second, but a Jeffery Heard (Sacramento State) rocket from right field gave catcher Jason Schiavone (James Madison) more than enough time to tag Quinn Madden out at home after Travis Illitch’s single.
That wasn’t the end of trouble for Galle. The Big Train starter struggled again in the third, yielding two runs on an RBI single and a bases-loaded walk. Yet Bethesda’s infield came up big with the bases loaded, as Dixon Williams (East Carolina) scooped a grounder and tossed it to Jack Guerrero (UNC Wilmington) who slung it to Carter Cunningham (East Carolina) for the inning-ending double play.
Braves’ starter Tom Bourque stifled the Big Train’s offensive production early, retiring the side in the first three innings. By the fourth, Bourque cracked as the Big Train racked up three singles and two runs to tie the game. Williams tallied the first run, scoring on a wild pitch, before Cunningham singled to knock in Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic). Teddy Ruffner (UNC Wilmington) tacked on the go-ahead run against Braves Ryan DeMartin, doubling to score Cunningham, fresh off of stealing second.
Ruddell launched his two-run shot over the right field fence in the fifth to score Schiavone and extend the Big Train’s lead. Once Bethesda found their rhythm, the Big Train batters rolled, tallying eight hits in the last four innings.
On the mound, Galle went three innings for the Green and White, allowing four hits and three walks, with three strikeouts. Gavin Jones (Alabama) delivered a stellar relief outing, retiring nine out of the ten batters he faced and only yielding one hit. Jack Robinson (Roanoke College) wrapped it up on the mound for the Big Train, making quick work of SOCO in the top of the seventh, the final inning in this shortened contest.
Following tonight’s second game against SOCO, the Big Train look ahead to Saturday, July 1st, when they take on the Alexandria Aces at 7 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field.
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