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Big Train ride eighth-inning explosion to victory over Dodgers

By: Owen Krucoff
Shortstop AJ Lee provided his best hitting performance as a Big Train player, knocking in four of Bethesda's 13 runs.

Facing the Baltimore Dodgers (8-16) for the third time in two days at Povich Field, Big Train (22-4) scored ten unanswered runs after falling behind to secure a 13-7 win. After splitting a doubleheader with Baltimore on Monday, Bethesda played as the away team in Tuesday’s matchup, which had originally been scheduled for June 22 but was rained out.

Shortstop AJ Lee (Maryland) knocked in Big Train’s first two runs in the top of the second, when he doubled to send home designated hitter John Glenn (California Baptist) and centerfielder Jacob Westerman (San Francisco). Later, with the bases loaded, catcher Carson Taylor (Virginia Tech) was hit by a pitch, allowing second baseman Tyler Reis (Waynesburg) to make the lead 3-0.

The Dodgers struck back in the bottom of the third, scoring six runs on seven hits, all but one of them singles.

Lefthander Anthony Piccolino (James Madison) was brought in from the Big Train bullpen partway through the inning and helped to shut down Baltimore’s big run, but was part of a scary moment while recording the last out. With two outs and runners on second and third, a comebacker off the bat of Dodgers designated hitter Jake Ruby drilled Piccolino in the leg. In the heat of the moment, Piccolino picked the ball up and made the throw to first to end the inning, but collapsed to the grass immediately after. “At first everything kind of went into shock, but I knew I still had to get the guy out at first, so I just wanted to finish the play,” Piccolino said. “And then my foot kind of just went numb.” After being surrounded by trainers and coaches as he lay on the field, Piccolino managed to limp back to the dugout under his own power.

It seemed unlikely that he would be able to continue pitching, but when the bottom of the fourth rolled around, he did just that. Piccolino kept the Baltimore bats in check over three more innings of relief, allowing just two hits and no runs. “[Piccolino] came in and did an amazing job on the bump,” Big Train manager Sal Colangelo said. “He competed, the changeup was working, it was just impressive.”

In the meantime, Big Train tied the game at six via another AJ Lee two-run double in the fifth and a Carson Taylor home run in the sixth. The game appeared to be headed for a close finish, but Bethesda suddenly removed all doubt with a seven-run eighth inning. Big Train sent eleven batters to the plate in the eighth, recording six hits, including a three-run home run by Tyler Reis. “The sliders [were] coming right into us, and we decided ‘Oh, let’s hit it’ instead of taking it for a called third strike,” Colangelo said. “We had nice swings, stayed inside it, and hit it where we needed to hit it.”

Baltimore scored one last run in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to stop Big Train from taking a 2-1 lead in the teams’ season series.

AJ Lee was one of Bethesda’s best contributors at the plate, turning in one of his best games of the season with 3 hits and 4 RBI. “The biggest thing for me was just getting back to what my approach is, and just hitting balls hard in the middle,” Lee said. I was hitting the ball pretty well tonight, and I was able to put some good swings on it.”

Having finished a stretch of five games in three days, Big Train will take Wednesday off before returning to action on Thursday at the Loudoun Riverdogs.