Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) bloops a single in the third inning, knocking in the first of five Bethesda runs in the frame. Photo Credit: Lisa A. Kammerman/BigTrainPhotos
The Big Train capitalized on mistakes made by the Baltimore Redbirds Sunday night en route to a five-run third inning instrumental to the 6-4 Bethesda victory. The Big Train improved to 22-8 on the season, salvaged a four-game regular season series split with the Redbirds, and extended its lead in the South division to 4.5 games.
The Redbirds scored a run in the top of the first but the Big Train answered in the bottom half. Center fielder Cody Brown (Mississippi State) laid down a bunt single to begin the frame. Shortstop Andrew Bechtold (Maryland) walked, and Brown advanced to third on a missed catch error by the Redbirds shortstop on a pickoff attempt. Designated hitter Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s (CA)) grounded into a double play, but Brown scored from third base on the play to knot the score at one apiece.
The Redbirds scored another run in the top of the second but their pitching and defense imploded in the bottom of the third. Left fielder Ryne Willard (NC State) singled to begin the frame. Cody Brown then worked a full-count walk. Andrew Bechtold got down a sacrifice bunt and also reached on a throwing error by the Redbirds catcher, loading the bases with nobody out. Two batters later, right fielder Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) hit a catchable blooper to left field that the Redbirds left fielder let fall in for a hit, scoring Willard and tying the game at two. Two batters after that, first baseman Tim Yandel (Tulane), a Redbird nemesis this season, hit a two-out, two-run double to left field, putting Bethesda ahead 4-2. A passed ball and a wild pitch scored Lewis and Yandel to make it a 6-2 game. The Big Train sent nine hitters to the plate in the bottom of the third and scored five runs, four unearned, knocking out one of the best pitchers in the league after just two and two thirds innings pitched.
The Big Train offense was quiet for the rest of the night but that five-run inning proved to be enough, as the Redbirds could only muster two more runs in the ball game. Baltimore’s best chance to tie the game came in the top of the eighth, when reliever Josh Thorne (Stetson) gave up two singles and hit a batter to load the bases with nobody out. However, Thorne would buckle down, inducing the next hitter to ground into a 4-6-3 double play and the following hitter to ground out harmlessly, getting out of the jam with just one run allowed.
Right-hander Brock Larson (San Francisco) started for Bethesda and went three innings, giving up two runs (one earned) while scattering four hits and two walks, striking out two. Bethesda's first relief pitcher Alex Calvert (South Carolina) earned his team-leading fourth win of the season, as the Bethesda starter failed to go the minimum five innings needed to qualify for a win. Calvert tossed four relief innings and gave up one unearned run on two hits, walking no one and striking out five in a 56 pitch, 38 strike effort. Josh Thorne earned a hold after escaping a bases-loaded, nobody out jam with one run in the eighth. Mike Rescigno (Maryland) earned his first save of the season, firing a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts, including a punch-out to finish off the Redbirds.
Notes: With five more unearned runs scored tonight, the Big Train scored a total of nine unearned runs over the past two games, making opponents pay for their mistakes…The South Division All-Stars were unveiled Sunday, with nine Big Train players (Justin Morris (Maryland), Chris Lewis (Sacramento State), Logan Farrar (Virginia Commonwealth), Cody Brown (Mississippi State), Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s (CA)), Harrison Crawford (Creighton), Tim Yandel (Tulane), Walker Sheller (Stetson), and Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s (CA))) making the squad. The game will take place at 7:30 on Povich Field this Wednesday, succeeding the league Home Run Derby that begins at 5PM…After taking two out of three on the weekend home stand, the Big Train heads out on the road tomorrow for an evening-night doubleheader against the FCA Herndon Braves. Bethesda plays the Baltimore Dodgers on the road Thursday, and then returns to Povich Field on Saturday at 7:30PM for another contest against the Braves. Saturday night is Feed the Hungry Night sponsored by Giant Food. Fans can donate non-perishable food items at Bethesda Giant locations or at the gate to receive a FREE ticket for Saturday night’s game!