With the game tied at 3-3 in the fourth inning of their 2021 home opener, Bethesda Big Train had a chance to pull away from the South County Braves.
Kyle Velazquez (St. Mary’s CA) chopped a bouncing ground ball double down the third base line to start the inning. Brady Gumpf (University of Notre Dame) then made no mistake with his at-bat and collected his first RBI of the season with a single to right field to bring Velazquez home, awarding the Big Train their second one-run lead of the day.
Big Train wasn’t finished yet on the offensive end in the same half inning, however. After Gumpf’s RBI single, Ryan Daugherty (St. Mary’s CA) tripled on a perfectly placed fly ball down the left field line, allowing Gumpf to score. Austin Gauthier (Maryland) joined the hit parade with a double to deep center field, scoring Daugherty to give Bethesda a commanding 6-3 lead.
The Big Train exploded at the plate, plating eight runs in total in the fourth alone, marching to a 12-5 win over the Braves in the regular season home opener at Shirley Povich Field. The Big Train have now taken down the Gaithersburg Giants and the Braves, moving to 2-0 to open their 2019 title defense.
Facing an early 2-0 deficit, the Big Train quickly delivered their response in the bottom of the second inning. Rocco Peppi (Long Beach State) got plunked to kick off the inning and he swiftly advanced to second on a passed ball. Velazquez then promptly sailed a deep fly ball to the center field wall for an RBI double as Peppi made his way home to cut the lead to one run.
Bethesda’s momentum continued into the bottom of the third inning, when both Gauthier and Darius Foster (San Francisco) successfully reached first and second base, respectively, with one out. Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) followed suit with a hard hit ground ball that made its way past the Braves’ shortstop, prompting Gauthier to reach home from second to equalize the score at two.
Peppi, who became 500th player to appear in a Big Train game on Monday, then added onto the team’s solid inning at the plate, as his broken-bat grounder drove home Foster to give Bethesda its first lead of the evening with a 3-2 score.
Even though South County knotted the game at three soon after, Bethesda’s bats came alive once again to replenish its lead in the bottom of the fourth. Velazquez, Gumpf and Daugherty combined for a few successful attempts at the plate to push Big Train’s lead to 6-3.
Peppi continued the onslaught against the Braves’ pitchers with a two-run double of his own, bringing home the duo of Gauthier and Foster to extend Big Train’s lead to five. Matt Thomas (William & Mary) hit an RBI single to help Peppi score his second run of the game to push the score to 9-3 and prompting a South County pitching change. Big Train tacked on two more runs in the inning to officially put the game out of reach.
With an 11-3 lead, Bethesda seemingly just needed to manage the final five innings of the first regular season game played at Shirley Povich Field this season to capture the win.
Daugherty added on to the Big Train’s lead in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single to extend the lead to 12-3, but the Braves answered back with two runs of their own in the top of the seventh to put Bethesda’s advantage on the scoreboard back to seven runs.
Pitcher Danny Checkosky (Christopher Newport) closed out the rest of the game for the Big Train, tossing 2.0 innings and allowing just one hit and no runs. Matt Howat (William & Mary), who struck out five and allowed just a single unearned run in four innings of relief, picked up his first win of the summer.
The Big Train have an off day Thursday before hitting the road to play the Grays in D.C. Friday night.
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