Thursday could shape up to be a big day for the Big Train – not only are they squaring off against the other top squad in the Ripken League, but they are also going for the team’s 500th overall win.
The battle for the South Division has been fiercely competitive, and judging by the way the Big Train (11-4) and Aces (13-2) have played thus far, it looks to remain that way for the rest of the season. Alexandria currently holds a slim two-game lead, and tonight’s matchup gives the Big Train the opportunity to narrow that gap.
Bethesda and Alexandria both played free baseball on Wednesday night, with each team going eleven innings. The Big Train dropped their contest to the Giants, while the Aces prevailed against the T-Bolts.
While it might seem like a tall task to shake off a disappointing loss and face off against your division rival, the Big Train are certainly well-equipped to do so. Four players who have appeared in at least ten games sport averages over .300 – James Outman (Sacramento State), Kevin Milam (St. Mary’s), Logan Driscoll (George Mason), and Gaby Cruz (Bryant). Zach Jancarski (Maryland), Justin Morris (Maryland), Fox Semones (James Madison) and Kirk Sidwell (Stetson) have also made good use of their playing time by hitting above a .300 clip.
Pitcher Ken Waldichuk (St. Mary’s) knows how important it is to have a stacked lineup. “Whenever the pitchers mess up,” he said, “the offense is usually there to pick them up.”
Outman and Driscoll have been standouts in Bethesda’s lineup this season, and they are at or near the top of the Ripken League in a number of offensive categories. Outman leads the league with four home runs. He and Driscoll are also tied for the league lead in RBIs, with 16. Driscoll’s 25 hits are the most in the league, while Outman’s 21 are third.
The Big Train, with a league-best .297 team batting average, will look to harness all of that offensive power tomorrow against the Aces’ strong pitching staff, which have a league-leading 2.78 team ERA. Their only previous meeting this season came on June 11 at Povich Field, with the Aces coming out on top, 7-3. The Big Train will aim to even up the season series tomorrow.
“We just have to score early and keep scoring throughout the game to stay ahead,” Milam said about the key to beating Alexandria.
Don’t miss this exciting matchup between the League’s top two teams and come out to Alexandria to support the Big Train! The first pitch at Frank Mann Field is at 7 pm. If you can’t make it, the game will be live-Tweeted (@gobigtrain) and broadcast by Max Wolpoff and P.J. Glasser (mixlr.com/big-train).