AJ Lee (Maryland) slides into third base
The Bethesda Big Train’s ability to work walks and make big defensive plays proved strong in their 4-1 win over the Rockville Express (1-2) on Saturday, giving them a five-game win streak to start the season.
The team started off hot, taking the lead in the first inning after Justin Wylie (Arizona) worked a lead-off walk, scoring on a single from A.J. Lee (Maryland). Then, Lee made it to second on a ground ball from John Glenn (California Baptist), stole third then stole home on a wild pitch. Wylie and Lee’s runs gave Bethesda a 2-0 lead. “[I] just try to get a good pitch,” said Wylie as to his approach at the plate. “Recently I haven’t been able to get that good pitch so I feel like that’s translating to a lot of walks.”
Both teams were competitive through the third inning. Then, in the top of the fourth, the Express tacked on a run on a Big Train error, after a batter reached on a hit-by-pitch. Starter Quinn Flanagan (Arizona) lasted four innings, putting up a solid three to start. He worked out of a jam in the top of the fourth inning, to allow only one run. He struck out two in his 4 innings of work, giving up two walks and a hit-by pitch and one hit.
Relievers Cam Vassar (James Madison), Ryan Metz (Virginia Tech), Gavin Hinchliffe (Virginia Tech) and Scott Parker (San Francisco) finished out the game, holding the Express to the one run. “The guys threw well,” said head coach Sal Colangelo. “I’d have liked to see more first-pitch strikes, but besides that we were down in the zone and we threw strikes and we got after it.”
To start the sixth, shortstop Lee made a diving grab accompanied by a smooth throw to first, catching lead-off batter Jarel McDade (Tusculum) at first for the first out of the inning. Then, Hinchliffe struck out two batters in a row for a three-up, three-down inning. He went on to pitch a second perfect inning in the eighth. “Defensively [Lee’s] one of the best in the country at shortstop,” said Colangelo. “And he’s a great kid. You add all those things up [and] you’ve got a great player.”
The Big Train’s defense allowed for the team to threaten more runs in the eighth, after both Wylie and Lee walked. A sacrifice bunt from Glenn allowed each to advance a base, and a walk to Jacob Westerman (San Francisco) loaded the bases with two outs. A walk to catcher Jacob Southern drove in a run, as did an error on Rockville second baseman Alex Yi-Chen Jou (Taiwan National University), which also allowed Andrew Shebloski (St. Mary’s, CA) to reach first. “The guys want to get on base,” said Colangelo. “That’s the key, any way you can, [whether it’s a] hit-by-pitch, a walk or hit or error, you want to get on base… the guys who can do the little things get on base.” Bethesda finished with four runs on four hits, with two errors.
The Big Train take on the Baltimore Redbirds (3-1) at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Carlo Crispino Stadium in Towson, Maryland.