By Patrick Sanderson and Erin Byard
Each week on bigtrain.tv, we'll be counting down the top ten greatest games in Big Train history, starting with #10 this Thursday, June 11. Before we begin the Top Ten countdown, we wanted to unveil the top 11-25 greatest games in team history, as voted by founder Bruce Adams, manager Sal Colangelo and historian Bill Hickman.
Review these top games before tuning in to bigtrain.tv at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday as we reveal #10!
#25 – July 31, 2001: Big Train 7, Germantown Black Rox 3
Big Train rally late to beat Black Rox in ‘01 season finale
The Big Train, once seven games under .500 after 29 games in the 2001 season, won nine out of their final 11 games. This streak was capped off by a thrilling win in the regular season finale against the Germantown Black Rox, preventing what would have been the Big Train’s only losing season in program history.
The Black Rox were rolling off Matt Scheuing’s one-hitter through five innings, cruising to a 2-0 lead. Jim Burt’s (Miami) sixth-inning grand slam proved to be the difference for the Big Train. Even after the Black Rox added a run in the following half inning, the Big Train never looked back, adding two more runs in the seventh and one in the ninth, closing out a 7-3 victory away from home.
#24 – June 6, 2004: Big Train 5, Reston Hawks 4
Cleckler’s eleventh-inning RBI seals opening day win over Reston
Opening Day of the 2004 season at Povich Field saw Bethesda and the Reston Hawks give Big Train fans a treat with an extra-inning thriller. The game quickly fell in the Big Train’s favor, jumping on the Hawks’ starting pitcher Brian McCullough for four runs in the first three innings while shutting them down at the plate behind Big Train starter Chris Rhoades’ (Towson) 4-hit shutout through seven innings.
However, the bullpen couldn’t hold down the 4-0 lead as Reston’s four-run eighth inning tied the game. The game went to extras and, with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eleventh inning, Nick Cleckler (Lipscomb) played hero for the Big Train with a walk-off infield hit to score Trey Cuevas (Southern Mississippi), icing the team’s first win of the 2004 season in dramatic fashion. The victory proved to be especially meaningful later in the summer, as Big Train went on to win the 2004 regular season by one game.
#23 – June 26, 2003: Big Train 7, Herndon Braves 6
Marcus Taylor’s three home runs stand out in Big Train win
In a dominating performance at the plate, Marcus Taylor (Middle Tennessee State) hit three home runs in an extra-inning Big Train win on the road in Herndon – the only time in Big Train history that a player has achieved such a feat.
Taylor’s first of the game came in the second inning as he put Big Train ahead 2-0, crushing a fastball over the right field fence. Then in the fourth inning, Taylor hit a solo home run over the right field fence. However, the Braves caught the Big Train, sending the game to extra innings at 6-6. In the top of the 11th inning, in fitting fashion, Taylor stepped up once more and delivered the go-ahead home run that clinched the Big Train win. The only other Griffith League player in the wooden bat era to hit three home runs in a game was Mark Teixeira, a future major leaguer.
#22 – June 9, 2000: Big Train 8, Arlington Senators 7
Big Train scores six in bottom of the ninth in comeback win
Big Train hosted the Arlington Senators in this exciting battle for the lead of the Griffith League. Big Train went into the bottom of the ninth down 7-2. The home team gave the crowd at Povich Field a thrilling ninth inning, scoring six runs to come back and defeat the Senators 8-7. This win lit a fire for Big Train, and they proceeded to rattle off eight straight wins.
#21 – July 20, 2006: Big Train 4, Rockville Express 3
Brian Dozier’s extra-inning heroics
In a mid-July battle between the first place Big Train and second place Rockville Express, just one game out of the top spot, the Povich Field crowd saw a ten-inning battle end with a walk-off single by infielder Brian Dozier (Southern Mississippi). His late heroics snatched a pivotal game in the race for first in the Cal Ripken League. Dozier went 3-for-4 with a walk and that crucial RBI, as the Big Train won 4-3 in a critical game in the final stretch of the season as the team subsequently pulled away to win the regular season title by three games.
#20 – July 27, 2001: Big Train 5, Silver Spring Takoma-Thunderbolts 0
Mark Galvin stands out pitching a near-perfect game
Mark Galvin’s (Kentucky) stellar performance atop the mound was the difference in this Big Train win. His outing was near-perfect, throwing a no-hitter and allowing only one walk. The batter who was given the free pass was doubled up in the next play. Big Train went on to win the game 5-0, besting the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts at Povich Field.
#19 – June 23, 1999 (Game 2): Big Train 7, Arlington Senators 0
Little’s seven-inning no-hitter
Following a loss in game one of a mid-June doubleheader on the road against the Arlington Senators that cost them their status at the top of the league, Big Train’s starter Jeff Little (Vanderbilt) pitched a seven-inning no-hitter en route to a bounce-back win, propelling Bethesda to the top of the league in the team’s inaugural season. The back half of the split doubleheader would be their final time at the league’s summit in 1999.
#18 – July 20, 2002: Big Train 4, Arlington Senators 3
Big Train defeats Arlington in pitcher’s duel
The Big Train and the Arlington Senators, the top two teams in the Griffith League, faced off before a packed crowd of 834 at Povich Field. Starting pitchers Matt Foster (Navy) of Bethesda and Risley St. Germain of Arlington controlled the game through the first eight innings. St. Germain held Bethesda to two runs, retiring 17 batters in a row; while Foster allowed no runs and only two hits.
In the top of the ninth, Gus Hlebovy (Kent State) relieved Foster after Arlington brought the score to 2-1. Arlington ended the inning up 3-2 after an RBI groundout and a go-ahead RBI single. In the bottom of the ninth, Bethesda tied up the game after Casey Gilvin (Morehead State) ripped an RBI double over the first baseman’s head. With bases loaded and two outs, Big Train’s Nate Jaggers (Middle Tennessee State) clinched the win with a walk-off RBI single.
#17 – June 14, 2017: Big Train 5, Baltimore Redbirds 4
Early season battle against Redbirds ends in gutsy Big Train win
Tied 4-4 after six innings against the rival Baltimore Redbirds at Povich Field, outfielder Matt Green (Saint Mary’s CA) stepped up to deliver a go-ahead RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to give the Big Train a one-run lead heading into the final two frames.
However, the Redbirds responded in the following half-inning, loading the bases with three consecutive batters to put the Big Train in a bases loaded, no-out situation, and calling upon the bullpen to perform damage control in a one-run game. Relief pitcher Stephen Schoch’s (UMBC) mind was set: take it one batter at a time.
With nerves of steel, the Maryland native struck out the first batter on four pitches, and followed with another strikeout for the crucial second out of the inning. Then, Baltimore’s Austin McNicholas, who had homered earlier in the game, became the third consecutive Redbird to be rung up on strikes, stranding the bases loaded. The Big Train closed out the game, winning 5-4.
#16 – July 28, 2010: Big Train 3, Baltimore Redbirds 2
Big Train rallies to beat Redbirds in opening round of league playoffs
After falling behind 2-0 early, Big Train came back in the eighth inning to narrowly edge out the Redbirds 3-2. The Redbird’s pitcher had given Big Train trouble all night, until Danny Stienstra (San Jose State) started a rally, leading off with a single, then advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt. Stienstra scored the tying run on a single from Ryan Collins (Mississippi State). Big Train then loaded the bases on two walks and Nick Schneeberger (Tulane) drove in the go-ahead run.
Big Train closer Bryan Hamilton (UNC Charlotte) dominated the ninth inning, striking out three Redbird hitters to seal the win for Bethesda. Following this exciting win, Big Train went on to win the League Championship, beating the Redbirds once again in the final.
#15 – June 12, 2001: Big Train 8, Reston Hawks 0
Hayhurst fans 18 Hawks in record-breaking performance
An eight-run inning would typically be the main highlight of a game, but not for the Big Train on June 12, 2001 against the Reston Hawks. Their eight-run sixth inning, which would be the only runs scored all game, was led by Mike Sweeney’s (Florida) two hits including an RBI double to score the first run of the game, opening up the floodgates as the Big Train plated seven more runs.
However, their sixth inning bombardment was overshadowed by starting pitcher Dirk Hayhurst’s (Kent State) record-setting performance, striking out 18 batters in a complete game gem, breaking the previous team single-game strikeout record of 14. Hayhurst allowed eight hits while not walking a single batter to lead the Big Train to a commanding 8-0 win at Shirley Povich Field. He still holds the team single-game strikeout record.
#14 – July 30, 2005: Big Train 7, Thunderbolts 6
Extra-inning showdown moves Big Train into first place tie in race for Ripken League title
Bethesda hosted the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts with a standing-room only crowd in this late season battle. The two teams were back and forth all night, but it was Jonnie Knoble’s (San Francisco) 10th inning hit that edged out the Bolts for this Big Train win.
Big Train led 2-0 until the top of the fourth, when the T-Bolts scored three runs on three hits. Bethesda then trailed the T-Bolts until the eighth, when a double by Brett Hoeflich (Southern Mississippi) plated Drew Carson (Southern Mississippi), sending the game to extra innings. In the bottom of the tenth, Knoble stepped up with an RBI single, sending in the winning run. With only two games of league play left, this win was huge for Big Train, as it moved them into a tie for first place.
#13 – August 12, 2000: Big Train 4, Maryland Bombers 2
Playing on the national stage in their second season, the Big Train went up against the Maryland Bombers in the National Amateur Baseball College World Series semifinals in Dayton, Ohio. John Maine (UNC Charlotte) pitched a gem, tossing seven scoreless frames before getting pulled a couple batters into the eighth. His final line read seven innings pitched, five hits and just two runs allowed.
David Colangelo (Marshall) collected four hits in the game. Patrick Boran (Princeton) doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning as part of a four-hit performance. Big Train added one more in the frame to win 4-2, and advance to the NABF finals in their second-ever season. The Big Train finished as NABF’s 2000 College World Series runner up, losing to the Ohio Warhawks in the championship game.
The Big Train at the 2000 NABF College World Series.
#12 – July 3, 2009 (Game 2): Big Train 2, Youse’s Maryland Orioles 0
Big Train pitching edges out Youse’s Orioles in battle of homegrown pitchers
Dominant pitching defined the day, as locals Hugh Adams (Florida Atlantic, St. John's College High School) of the Big Train and Kevin Brady (Clemson, Gaithersburg High School) of the Orioles squared off in the second game of a doubleheader. The Orioles had won the first game to pull within two games of the league lead. Both pitchers threw complete games in front of a standing room only crowd at Povich Field. The Big Train edged Youse's Orioles 2-0 as Adams pitched an impeccable game, striking out five batters and allowing only four Orioles baserunners.
Big Train was able to get on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a walk and HBP, Big Train had players on first and second. Cody Freeman (Mississippi State) drove a single to left field, scoring the runner from second. In the sixth inning, Big Train added to its lead when Freeman plated a run with a sacrifice fly to left. Big Train went on to win the league by two games and rank #9 in the nation.
#11 – June 14, 2013: Big Train 7, Baltimore Redbirds 6
Big Train takes down rival Redbirds in seesaw affair
In a back-and-forth affair between the Big Train and Baltimore Redbirds at Povich Field, Bethesda found themselves down 6-5 in the top of the seventh inning. Bethesda tied the game in the bottom of the inning, as the Redbirds issued a bases loaded four-pitch walk to Kevin Tatum (Cornell).
The game went to extras backed by Bubba Derby’s (San Diego State) stellar late-inning pitching. In the bottom of the tenth, Josh Spano (High Point) drove in the game-winning run with a single to send the Big Train to a thrilling early-season victory over their rivals. Big Train held first place the rest of the season and was ranked as high as #7 in the nation that year.
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