Catcher Austin Hale (Stetson) prepares to tag out a runner at home.
The Bethesda Big Train showed characteristic flashes of solid play Wednesday night, but inconsistency in all aspects of their game lead to a 4-7 loss to the Herndon Braves. The loss drops the Big Train to 13-7 on the season, but the team still holds a 2-game lead over the second-place Braves in the South Division.
The Braves got on the board first by scoring 3 runs in the 2nd inning and adding another in the 3rd, creating a commanding 4-0 lead. Big Train starter John Murphy (Maryland) would find his groove, however, striking out the final two batters in the 3rd to limit the damage, followed by two shutout innings. Murphy finished with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks in the no-decision, surrendering only those initial 4 runs in 5 innings pitched.
Meanwhile, after getting off to a slow start offensively against Braves starting pitcher Dom Morabito, the Big Train's bats woke up in a big way after Morabito was replaced in the 4th inning. After reaching base with a single, center fielder Cody Brown (Mississippi State) scored on an error by the Braves first baseman off the bat of Jimmy Monaghan (Campbell). Monaghan would then score later in the inning on a clutch two-out single to left by Cam Daugherty (Bowling Green).
The next two innings saw the Big Train display some of their trademark resilience. After their first two batters reached base to start the 5th, another Braves error, this time by their catcher, allowed Mike Emodi (Creighton) to score. Then, in the 6th, Daugherty would score on a line drive down the left field line by Gunnar Lambert (Florida Atlantic), knotting the game up at 4 apiece. It seemed as though the Big Train were headed for yet another comeback victory.
However, the Big Train's own defensive miscues, which plagued the team all night, would prove to be their undoing. A misplayed ball on a single to center field allowed a Braves player to score all the way from first in the 6th, putting the Braves back on top 5-4. Another error in the outfield, this time in right field on a fly ball, cushioned the Braves' lead in the 9th inning, discouraging any hopes for a comeback.
Matt Marsili (James Madison), who pitched the final three innings of the game, would take the loss. Marsili struck out 4 and gave up 2 earned runs.
"We weren't mentally prepared," said manager Sal Colangelo. "[The Braves] played hard, and we gave them a bunch of runs. Missed ball at first base, gave them a run. Fly ball, gave them a run. We didn't execute when we needed to [...] and when they had their opportunity, they made the best of it."
Fatigue may have played a role in the Big Train's lackluster performance, having recently played several long games (including 21 innings spread over the two games of a doubleheader last Sunday).
"We've played a lot of innings these last couple days [...] real late night games," Colangelo said. It catches up to you. It was bound to happen."
While the team will have little time to rest, the Big Train should be sharper regardless Thursday night as they take on the Vienna River Dogs at James Madison High School. First pitch will be at 7 p.m.