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Sanderson Leads Big Train to CRCBL Championship

By: Ben Portnoy
Blake Sanderson (FAU)

SILVER SPRING, MD – Blake Sanderson (FAU) spent much of the regular season as a third or fourth starting option for the Big Train. But Wednesday night the Orlando, FL native pitched like an ace, helping send Bethesda to their ninth consecutive Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League Championship with an 8-0 Game 2 win over the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts.

“Blake’s a champion,” manager Sal Colangelo said.

After a 1-2-3 first inning, Sanderson ran into some early trouble in the second.  With the bases loaded and only one out, the junior faced the bottom of the Silver Spring lineup. Sanderson first set down Corey Fields on a fly out, then struck out Blake James on three pitches to get out of the jam.

Sanderson finished his night after going five innings, giving up just two hits while striking out five.

“He knows how to pitch,” Colangelo said. “He’s going to be a great player. He’s got a future ahead of him and that’s what matters. That’s why we took him out and just great performance.”

Sanderson was afforded plenty of offensive support as well. Jacob Koos (Stetson) got the Big Train going in the first with an RBI triple to score Zach Jancarski (Maryland) from first. Koos then scored on a Kevin Milam (St. Mary’s) grounder to first to put the Big Train ahead 2-0.

The Big Train tacked on three more runs in the second, two in the sixth and one in the eighth. Garrett Kueber’s (Austin Peay) RBI double to right-center in the sixth highlighted the later offense.

“Coaches were talking about kind of flipping the switch,” Jancarski said. “When the game started we were kind of, not lackadaisical but relaxed. And once the game started we sort of flipped that right away, jumped on them early and then kept our foot on the gas.”

Once Sanderson was pulled, Matt Pulos (Cal State-Stanislaus), Alex Calvert (Erskine) and Austin Keen (Kentucky) combined for four innings of one-hit ball to close the series and send the Big Train to the CRCBL Championship Series.

“It feels great,” Jancarski said of the win. “It’s a good win, last couple wins. I feel like we’re on a roll right now so I mean that’s how you want to be when you’re going into the championship.”

The Big Train will take on the Baltimore Redbirds in the Championship Series. The Redbirds also swept their semifinal series Wednesday night over the Baltimore Dodgers.  It will be the ninth consecutive year the Big Train will face the Redbirds in the CRCBL Championship.

“They’re a good team but like I said I like where we are right now and I think we got the right guys to do it this year,” Jancarski said.

Game 1 of the Championship Series will be Thursday at Shirley Povich Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.