After 44 hard-fought games, it all comes down to one.
Unable to close out their title defense on Saturday, the Big Train will instead go for their sixth Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League championship on Sunday in a winner-take-all Game 3 showdown.
After recording a resounding 14-3 victory in Game 1, Bethesda was dealt the opposite fate by the Redbirds on Saturday. Eight walks and 14 hits issued by Big Train pitching, along with a quiet night at the plate for the offense, led to a 15-4 defeat.
“Any time you fall behind hitters, you put them in a plus count, and hitters thrive on that,” manager Sal Colangelo said.
Saturday’s loss brought the Big Train to 0-3 on the season at Calvert Hall High School, making the Redbirds the only team against which Bethesda did not record a road win. Having secured home field advantage by playing to the League’s best regular-season record at 31-9, the Big Train will attempt to use it to their advantage on Sunday. They will play in front of a home audience at Povich Field, where they have historically had much success.
Hoping to lead the Big Train to back-to-back titles will be Tyler Smith (East Carolina), one of Big Train’s best starters this summer. He pitched to an excellent 3.03 ERA over five starts and 29.2 innings. He recorded almost a strikeout per inning (23) while limiting his hits allowed to 26. He has not faced the Redbirds this season.
“We’ve got to come out and throw strikes. We can’t fall behind hitters,” Colangelo said about the pitching strategy for Game 3. As for improving upon the team’s offensive performance from Saturday, Colangelo said that the hitters need to “get the ball up, don’t panic, have good discipline and not try to just reach.”
Colangelo expects, after two blowouts, a close game on Sunday.
“We’re going to have to execute to win the ballgame,” he said. But, in the end, he can’t help but express confidence in the players he saw achieve such a successful 2017 season.
“[I think] we’ll be ok,” he said.
The first pitch of Game 3 of the League Championship Series, and the final game of the CRCBL season, is at 7 pm. The game will be live-Tweeted (@gobigtrain) and broadcast by Max Wolpoff and PJ Glasser (mixlr.com/big-train).
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