Joe Nahas (UMBC)
BALTIMORE – After exploding for four home runs against the Gaithersburg Giants on Sunday, it was the long ball that killed the Big Train in their 2-0 loss to the Baltimore Redbirds Tuesday night.
“They’re always good so you always know what you’re going to get,” starting pitcher John Murphy (Maryland) said. “They’re aggressive at the plate and they’re aggressive on the base path. You just try your best to make your best pitches and keep them honest on the base path.
The Big Train found themselves in an early hole after solo home runs from AJ Lee and Cole Zabowski in the first and second inning respectively. Both homers came off Murphy, who was shaky early in his three-inning outing. However, the Terrapin righty finished the third with a 1-2-3 inning, the last out coming by way of a strikeout.
“I think it was a pretty good outing,” Murphy said. “I think those two home runs I made my pitches, they were both inside fastballs and the first pitch of the game so you know you’ve got to give props to the hitters.”
Joe Nahas (UMBC) was spectacular in relief of Murphy. The Frackville, PA native went three innings giving up two hits while striking out five. The outing also dropped his season ERA from 2.55 to 2.17.
“They did a great job,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “They did all the little things. They made pitches when they needed, they had good command, they located well and they doubled up on pitches and they did what we needed.”
Luke Heyer (Kentucky) and Zach Jancarski (Maryland) lead the offensive charge for the Big Train. Both hitters went 2-for4 on the night. Heyer has been particularly impressive of late. The third baseman is now 9-of-18 in his last five games.
“He’s taking quality at-bats,” Colangelo said of Heyer. “He’s swinging the bat well. He’s waiting for his pitch. He’s not trying to just over-swing. He’s trying to do the little things.”
While the game was decided by a couple solo shots on the scoreboard, some close umpiring came into play during the tight contest. James Outman (Sacramento State) narrowly missed a home run down the left field line that appeared to hook foul after going over the fence but was ultimately called out of play in the top of the second.
The Big Train will head home Wednesday for a critical double-header against the Baltimore Dodgers. After Tuesday night’s competition Bethesda sits 1.5 games back of the Alexandria Aces in the South Division with eight games left.
“I’m not worried about the second game – let’s get a win in game one,” Colangelo said. “I expect Tyler Smith to throw a great game and us come back and take care of business and us be ready to go the second game. One at a time.”
First pitch in game one of the double-header from Shirley Povich Field is scheduled for 4 p.m.