After six straight wins to open the season, the Big Train struggled hitting with runners on base, falling 3-1 to the defending champion Baltimore Redbirds Thursday.
Bethesda stranded 11 runners on the evening, including two during each of their final four at bats.
The bats were quieted by Baltimore’s hard-throwing right-hander Jason Morgan (1-1) – a rising sophomore at the University of North Carolina – who kept the Big Train off the scoreboard with a balance of heat and off-speed.
Morgan, who lasted five innings allowing only two hits, faced every offensive starter twice and relied heavily on his breaking ball to close out hitters his second time through the lineup. In his final two innings he sat down four Big Train hitters via his curveball.
After Morgan’s exit, the Big Train threatened each of the final four innings, yet were unable to scratch across more than one run. After loading the bases in the sixth on a walk, hit-by-pitch and error, Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) grounded out to second plating Bethesda’s lone run.
Committing no errors in the field for the fourth time in 2015, Bethesda couldn’t capitalize offensively on a trio of Redbird errors.
Brandon Hunley (Sacramento State) opened the bottom of the seventh with a liner seemingly destined for the right-centerfield gap that was snagged by right fielder Stuart Fairchild for the first out. Catcher Nicholas Feight (UNC Wilmington) reached first on Baltimore’s second error, froze on pinch hitter Alex Calvert’s (South Carolina) frozen rope lineout to the center fielder, and moved to second after Cody Brown’s (Mississippi State) two-out single. Following suit, Matt Toscano (St. Mary’s, Calif.) lined out to third to end the threat.
Baltimore called on closer Isaac Mattson in the bottom of the ninth, who was greeted by more porous defense. Feight led off, reaching first on an infield error for the second time in the game. Mattson shut the door, however, sandwiching a Toscano hit-by-pitch between three strikeouts in the final frame.
Despite being tagged with the loss, Big Train starter Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s, Calif.) gave up just one run on three hits. His season ERA climbed to 0.90 after a scoreless season opening performance against the Gaithersburg Giants last Friday.
Notes: Bethesda tied a season high leaving 11 runners on base (June 6 @ Baltimore Dodgers) … After beginning the 2014 summer with 12 straight wins, the Big Train’s 2015 streak ended at six … In the top of the ninth, Bethesda reliever Tyler Warmoth (Stetson) struck out his younger brother Logan Warmoth … While remaining 1.5 games ahead of the Vienna River Dogs in the South Division, the Big Train no longer hold the league’s best record which now belongs to the Baltimore Redbirds (7-1) … The Big Train travel to Rockville to face the Express Friday at 7:00 p.m. … Bethesda returns home for Saturday’s twin billing against the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. Start times are 5:00 and 7:30 p.m.
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