On Halloween night, the Big Train demonstrated just how scary they can be.
Masterful performances by both the offense and pitching staff propelled the Big Train to a sweep of the D.C. Grays in Sunday’s doubleheader.
“Everyone contributed” manager Sal Colangelo remarked. “It was a team win, both ways. Any time you can sweep a doubleheader, especially in seven-inning games, it’s not easy at any level, so it’s always good.”
The Big Train locked in a close 5-4 victory in Game 1. Trailing the Grays in the fourth, the Big Train took the lead for good on a Zach Jancarski (Maryland) two-run home run. It was Jancarski’s second long ball in as many days.
“Zach has been great all season,” Colangelo said. “It’s nice to have a leadoff batter set the tone. He’s a tone setter.”
“Anytime you can help the team and spark the team in any way, it’s a positive,” Jancarski said.
Earlier in Game 1, Vinny Esposito (Sacramento State) opened the Big Train scoring with a solo shot of his own, his third on the year. After a relatively quiet start to the season, Esposito’s bat has been heating up as of late.
“It feels pretty good,” Esposito remarked. “It’s always nice to hit a homer.”
Game 2 was a much more comfortable contest for the Big Train, which they took 7-1. Mike Emodi (Creighton) and Jacob Koos (Stetson) made an impact with their bats, each notching two hits, including RBI singles. Emodi also blasted a solo homer, his second in as many games. The Omaha, Nebraska native has been finding his groove at the plate, raising his average from .174 to .241 over the last two games.
“It’s awesome to be able to help out your team and help out your pitchers,” Emodi said.
“It’s good to see Mike break out of his slump,” Colangelo remarked. “This is a tough game to play, and when you’re in a slump, it’s all in the head. Anytime [Emodi comes] out like that, it helps us as a team.”
The Big Train’s pitching staff kept the Grays lineup in check all night, allowing only five runs in 14 innings. Ken Waldichuk (St. Mary’s) got the win in Game 1 after tossing 4.2 innings of four-run ball. Stephen Schoch (Maryland-Baltimore) earned the save by tossing 2.1 scoreless innings, keeping his 0.00 ERA intact. His overpowering stuff stymied his opponents, and he racked up three more strikeouts to raise his season total to 29 in just 18.2 innings pitched.
“The pitching [staff] did a great job,” Colangelo said. “In the first game, [they] just came in and battled. Ken battled; he threw one or two bad pitches, but it just shows his character that he comes back and gets the win. Schoch came in in typical fashion and just closed the door.”
In Game 2, Austin Keen (Kentucky), Joe Nahas (Maryland-Baltimore), Kevin Milam (St. Mary’s) and Mitchell Wilson (Maryland-Baltimore) combined to allow only one run on two hits.
With Sunday’s doubleheader sweep, the Big Train won all four games of the home stand, a result they could not have drawn up better after going only 6-5 at home heading into the weekend.
“We’ve struggled at home. What really changed for us was luck,” Colangelo said. “It’s always good to win at home in front of the fans.”
The Big Train take their seven-game winning streak to Alexandria to face the Aces on Monday. A crucial matchup between the League’s two best teams, the Big Train will look to gain ground on their division rivals.
The first pitch at Frank Mann Field is at 7 pm.
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