Before the scheduled first pitch at Shirley Povich Field for the Bethesda Big Train’s doubleheader against the Alexandria Aces, it started to rain. In fact, it started to pour. There was concern it would be yet another rainout. After playing the two games, the Big Train probably wish it had been.
Although the weather cleared up for both teams, the Big Train (25–10) played like the personification of a rainy day, dropping the second game of the doubleheader 13–7 Thursday night, getting swept on the day by the Aces (24–10), the team chasing them in the standings.
With a chance to clinch the Cal Ripken League regular season title, the Big Train will have to wait another day to see if they can secure the no. 1 seed going into the playoffs.
The Big Train wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. After a scoreless top of the first from Kade Woods (Alabama), Emilien Pitre (Kentucky) snuck a one-out single up the middle to score Luke Nowak (East Carolina) and give the Big Train a 1-0 lead.
That lead held until the third when, after Woods worked two scoreless innings, he ran into trouble. Multiple walks from the Tide pitcher brought in two runs, forcing the Train to go to the bullpen to try to stop the bleeding. It didn't work.
Jackson Ritchey (Virginia Tech) replaced Woods but the third inning proved insurmountable for the Hokie, as well. Ritchey, who had given up just one run before his outing Thursday, gave up three earned runs on three hits and two walks and allowed three of Woods' runners to score.
The nine popped on the scoreboard for the Aces as Ritchey recorded the final out to end the top of the third. Woods was charged with five earned runs on just one hit as the Aces took a commanding 9–1 lead. The struggles with control and a few key Aces hits put the Big Train in a mess of their own making.
“Pitchers didn’t work ahead,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “Twenty plus walks and four hit by pitches. You’re not going to win a lot of games when you do that.”
Sean Lane (Maryland) got a run back for Bethesda in the third after roping a RBI double into the left-center gap that one hopped the wall and scored Nowak. Later in the inning, Pitre scored on a walk to make it 9-3. The inning took over an hour and by the time it was over, the Big Train had failed to make a real dent in the Aces' lead and wouldn't seriously threaten again.
Marcus Dux (Virginia Tech) came in to pitch in the top of the 4th and the Aces offense continued to pummel Big Train pitching, adding to their lead with two runs on a single. As the game headed to the bottom of the fourt, it was 11-3 Alexandria.
The Aces would add two more runs in the top of the sixth while the Big Train remained quiet on the offensive side until the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs on wild pitches to make the score 13–6. It was a sloppy game all around for both teams. While the Big Train pitching staff issued 10 walks, the Aces issued 13. It was the Aces' ability to get a few key hits that made all the difference.
DM Jefferson (Notre Dame), Lane and Pitre lead the Big Train offensively. All three players went 1-for-2 as Jefferson and Lane each had an extra-base hit while Pitre had the RBI single in the first.
Friday, the Big Train will travel to D.C. to take on the Grays in the final regular season game at 5 p.m at Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy. A win puts them in strong position to clinch the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League's regular season title but it will depend on what the Aces do over their last two games. Regardless, the Big Train are still confident of defending their title.
“We know that going into the playoffs, we’re going to go in with that full head of steam,” Jefferson said. “It doesn’t really matter if we’re the one seed, the eight seed or six seed. We’re just going to go and play every single game the same exact way and try and get a W.”
The Big Train will have to flush Thursday's action quickly if they're going to make a playoff run. Their first playoff game is, weather permitting, scheduled for Monday, July 25.
Game Night Notes: It was fitting that for the final regular season home games of 2022, we were treated to some early rain during game one of last night's doubleheader. But once the rain finally cleared, Big Train fans were treated to a classic steamy DMV summer night, complete with tons of fun... It was Fan Appreciation Night and thanks to our proud partner, FitBite Orthodontics, every fan in attendance got a Big Train reusable grocery bag! Now, they can shop in style! We want to say thank you to the over 10,000 fans who have come out to Povich this summer... Thursday was Host Family Appreciation Night! Our host families are our secret weapon in creating a welcoming environment where our players can thrive on the field, and they form bonds for life. 17 of our host families got to throw out first pitches to the players they are hosting before game two, all at the same time! It was beautiful chaos. If you're interested in becoming a host family next season, learn more here... It was also our belated Tribute to Latin Baseball. Fans were treated to the sounds of Mariachi son de America, who walked the concourse during the game. Also, all the Big Train players and staff wore #21 to honor Roberto Clemente, who passed away 50 years ago while attempting to deliver aid to Nicaragua. Clemente's humanitarian model is one on which we model the Big Train, and we all wore his number to show respect for his legacy of service... Instead of our usual two, the Big Train celebrated FIVE community heroes last night including Shepherd's Table, Integrated Living Opportunities, Empowering the Ages, Manna Food Center & Comfort Cases! Please visit their websites to learn more about the amazing work they all do to improve our community... The Big Train also honored TWO individual community heroes, Rob Scheer of Comfort Cases and Haile Gebregziabher of Shepherd's Table, for all the incredible work they do within their organizations. Each received a custom Big Train jersey with "Community Hero" on the back... Last night was our second annual Hotdogathon to benefit the Manna Food Center. We partnered with Catalyst Hot Dogs and Roseda Farm to eat 383 hot dogs, the most Catalyst has ever served at one event! And with all the pledges that have come in, we have, thus far, raised over $2,000 for Manna Food Center! Thank you to all those who donated and ate hot dogs. If you'd like to pledge, you still can! Click here... The Big Train also welcomed special guest, Dave Johnson, the voice of the Wizards and DC United and the sports director at WTOP, to talk about sports, his battle with MS, and how to help raise money in search of a cure. Dave was the guest of Pat Malone, of the Our Town DC podcast, which will soon have an episode up with Big Train President and Founder Bruce Adams... The red-hot Orioles Double-A affiliate, the Bowie Baysox and their mascot, Louie, were also on hand! They gave out great Baysox tote bags and Louie got into mischief with Big Train mascots, Homer & Bunt... Two youth baseball teams, the Kidball Mets and the BCC Little Train 9U, had picnics to celebrate the end of their season, had their names announced over the PA, and ran out onto the field with the Big Train players before the national anthem. They had a blast... Attendance was 626.
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