Zach Kirtley (St. Marys (CA)) clubbed a two-run dinger in the top of the first, giving the Big Train a 2-0 lead. It was one of three Bethesda long balls on the night. Photo Credit: Bruce Adams
The Bethesda Big Train slugged their way to a 9-5 victory on the road against the FCA Herndon Braves Monday night to gain a 1-0 advantage in the best-of-three semifinal series. The Big Train also swatted three dingers, a season high.
Bethesda was not messing around in the top of the first. Leadoff man Logan Farrar (Virginia Commonwealth) worked a walk to begin the game. Two batters later, shortstop Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s (CA)) smashed a two-run home run, his second of the summer, that put Bethesda up 2-0. In the bottom of the first, Herndon answered, albeit with the help of some Bethesda miscues, scoring two unearned runs to knot it at two apiece after an inning of play.
The top of the second saw Bethesda take the lead again, beginning with a leadoff home run by second baseman Brandon Hunley (Sacramento State), his first long ball of the season. Farrar and Cody Brown (Mississippi State) hit back-to-back doubles later in the frame, giving the Train a 4-2 advantage.
By the sixth inning, the Braves had once again caught up to the Big Train, tying the score at four apiece. However, in the top of the sixth, Bethesda busted it open with a five-run explosion. Third baseman Harrison Crawford (Creighton), the second of nine Bethesda hitters to bat in the inning, worked a seven-pitch walk off of Herndon reliever Timmy Wages, who had retired the first twelve Big Train batters he faced before Crawford’s hard-fought walk. That set the stage for Tim Yandel (Tulane), a full-count, go-ahead two-run mammoth shot high and far over the left field fence that put the Big Train on top for good. The jack was one of many of Yandel’s clutch hits of the summer, and his third home run.
Two batters later, catcher Justin Morris (Maryland) worked a six-pitch walk. Logan Farrar then worked another walk, this one on a grinding nine-pitch plate appearance that put runners on first and second with two outs, setting the stage for Cody Brown’s second RBI double of the game. Zach Kirtley continued his fine performance with an RBI single that brought home Bethesda’s eighth run. A throwing error by the new Herndon pitcher scored Brown from third to make it a 9-4 game. The Braves would get a run back in the bottom of the seventh, but that was all they would get in the 9-5 final.
Right-hander Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s (CA)) started for Bethesda and went 3.1 innings, giving up four runs, only one earned, while scattering three hits and striking out two. Alex Calvert (South Carolina) entered in relief and contributed two scoreless innings for the win. Miller Trevvett (Radford) entered in a bases-loaded, one out jam in the bottom of the sixth, but induced a 5-4-3 double play to escape. Trevvett would go 1.2 innings and allowed one unearned run. Tyler Tobin (George Mason) and Mike Rescigno (Maryland) pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively, with neither giving up any runs.
Notes: The Big Train bullpen was dynamite tonight, going an aggregate 5.2 innings while giving up only four hits and not relinquishing any earned runs…Every member of the Bethesda batting order reached base tonight, with the first three hitters (Farrar, Brown, Kirtley) going a combined 6-for-12…The Big Train square off against the Braves in Game 2 tomorrow night at 7:30 at Povich Field. The Big Train is looking to advance to the finals, while the Braves look to force a Game 3, which would be 7:30PM Wednesday night at Povich Field…When asked about his home run tonight in a postgame interview, Tim Yandel stated, “I just wanted to come up big for my team and put a good swing on it. I’ve been here for the past three years and we’ve always come so close and never won but we aren’t losing this time.”