The Bethesda Big Train hit the road Wednesday and took down the Alexandria Aces for the second time in as many days, improving to 25 wins on the season. The 17-3 win secured the Cal Ripken League regular season championship and awarded Big Train the top seed throughout the upcoming CRCBL playoffs.
The Big Train started off the scoring in the top of the first with a Grant Knipp (Campbell) single that drove Darius Foster (San Francisco) and Keith Torres (Sacramento State) home. Bethesda threatened further, but the Aces pulled a hidden ball trick to end the inning, leaving one Big Train player on base. At the plate, the Aces were able to cut Big Train’s lead in half with one run scored.
Heading into the second, the Big Train offense made noise again. A Nolan Schanuel (Florida Atlantic) double brought Brady Gumpf (Notre Dame) in and Torres singled in a run for his 12th RBI of the season. Not to be outdone, Matt Thomas (William & Mary) hit a two-run home run deep to right-center to tally Big Train’s fifth and sixth runs of the game. Three outs by the Aces moved the game into the bottom of the second. Starter Matt Bedford (Notre Dame) tallied two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 bottom half and the Big Train stepped back up to bat.
The Big Train made it a 10-1 ballgame in the top of the third with another four-run inning. With the bases loaded, Foster tripled off the top of the center field fence bringing another three runs on the night. Another Torres single brought home Foster to end the half inning up nine runs. Bedford shut down the Aces in the bottom half to keep the nine-run advantage intact.
Alexandria's pitching staff finally managed to stall the Train in the top of the fourth and fifth. Returning the favor, Bedford and Grayson Hitt (Alabama) stalled the Aces through that stretch. The Big Train plated two more in the top of the sixth. Kemp Alderman (Ole Miss) doubled for his 42nd RBI of the season, bringing Torres home. Then, Jack Cone (William & Mary) hit a sacrifice fly to left field driving Thomas home for another run for a 12-1 lead.
No runs for Bethesda in the top of the seventh brought Ryan Metz (Virginia Tech) to the mound for a scoreless half of the inning.
Alderman started off the top of the eighth with a double. A walk and a hit by pitch loaded the bases, and a walk to Danny Neri (Notre Dame) brought Alderman home. A Torres double added two more RBIs to his total and Neri took advantage of a passed ball to score the fourth run of the frame. Knipp singled to add another run, driving Torres home for a 17-1 score.
The Aces were eventually able to end the Big Train’s five-run inning. They plated two in the bottom half, but were unable to score more, and the ballgame ended 17-3 after eight on the league's run rule, securing Bethesda's fourth straight regular season championship.
Eight of the Big Train's starters collected multiple hits in the contest. Torres went 4-for-4 at the plate with four runs and four RBIs. Knipp and Foster each drove in three runs.
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