Top Ten Thursdays: #10 – July 31, 2005 – Big Train 7, Rockville Express 4

Nick Cleckler (Lipscomb) drove in the go-ahead run in extra-innings.

Top Ten Thursdays is a weekly show that highlights the top 10 games in Bethesda Big Train history, as voted on by team historian Bill Hickman, manager Sal Colangelo and founder Bruce Adams. As each game is unveiled, we will bring you a written flashback here in on

Host Alex Drain, with the help of Colangelo and various guests, will break down each game, as those involved discuss what they remember and the significance of each contest. Each episode will serve as a flashback to classic moments in Big Train history, in lieu of actual games during the 2020 summer. 

Today, we look at Game #10, from July 31, 2005 against the Rockville Express. 

As the inaugural season of the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League came to a close, the Bethesda Big Train found themselves in the midst of teams vying for the 2005 regular season championship. Their path to obtaining the crown was simple: with three games remaining, the Big Train needed three wins. 

With each opponent wanting to play spoiler, the Big Train had no room for error. In the penultimate game of the regular season, the Rockville Express nearly put Bethesda’s title hopes to bed, but an extra-inning boost on July 31, 2005, inched the Big Train another game closer to the season championship. 

Just the day before, in the 14th greatest game in Big Train history, Jonnie Knoble’s (San Francisco) walk-off RBI in the bottom of the tenth inning lifted Bethesda to a 7-6 victory over the Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts. The final three games weren’t going to be easy, and the T-Bolts proved just that. 

But as the Big Train battled the Express, one thing became clear: While not every team was challenging for the title, pride was on the line to take down one of the top dogs in the CRCBL’s first season. The intense rivalry present between the Express and Big Train added fuel to the fire in what would be an energetic ending. 

“Bethesda Big Train is the New York Yankees of summer baseball,” manager Sal Colangelo said on Thursday’s show. “Everybody wants to play in Bethesda, everybody wants to beat the Big Train, and [Rockville Express] took it to another level. It was exciting every time we played them.”

The Big Train came in at 23-15 and started trusted pitcher Derek Caldwell (Rider) against the Express, who sat at an even 19-19. After a scoreless first inning, Bethesda broke the deadlock in the top of the second when Bryan Thomas (Virginia Tech) scored following a throwing error. 

In the fourth, Big Train’s Ken Beamer (Findlay) and Greg Lemon (Salisbury) reached base after each hit singles, and a throwing error by the Rockville pitcher
allowed both to score, extending the Bethesda lead to 3-0. 

In the bottom frame of the inning, the Express cut the deficit to two, but Bethesda answered with another run of their own in the top of the seventh to make it 4-1. Going into the bottom of the eighth down three, Rockville needed a spark to continue its hopes of playing spoiler. With the bases loaded, Mike Murphy’s two-RBI single pulled the Express within one. The upset watch was alive and well. 

With runners on first and third, Big Train pitcher Brett Tidball (Maryland) picked off the runner at first, but a well-placed hit to left field brought home the tying run, notching the game at four apiece. 

Neither team could find the winning run in the ninth, sending the game to extras. Lemon opened the top of the tenth with a single — his fourth of the game — and then advanced to second via a rare Rhett Teller (Saint Leo) sacrifice bunt. After Andrew Smith (San Francisco) was intentionally walked, Thomas singled to juice the bases. 

“I was praying, because Rhett, I don’t think he’s ever bunted in his life,” Colangelo said. “We still laugh about that. Sometimes as a coach, you go with your gut. I just knew Rhett coming up, if he can get it down, we have a chance to get him over.”

Then, the Big Train started rolling. 

Nick Cleckler (Lipscomb) drove home Lemon and Drew Carson (Southern Mississippi) hit a sac fly to center to score Smith. Thomas made it 7-4 on a passed ball, showing the clutch gene and mental toughness of the Bethesda squad that did everything it needed to obtain the 2005 regular season crown. 

Big Train closer Wyatt Stewart (Richmond) gave up two singles in the bottom half of the 10th, but eventually earned his sixth save of the season. The win over Rockville meant the Big Train were one win away from the CRCBL season title, with only one game remaining in the regular season. 

“We really had a true blue-collar, just work a day, group of guys, tremendous bullpen, and we had a good defense as well,” Lemon said. “We really had a great group, a fun group, and I’m glad to see that the sort of foundations we laid in ‘04 and ‘05 have been carried on now for 15 years.”

This Thursday on, Drain will highlight Game #9, which took place in July 2004. 

Search Archive »

Browse by Year »


Browse by Month »

September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
December 2022
November 2022
September 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
March 2020
February 2020
October 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
November 2016
September 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
September 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
November 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
December 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
December 2011