LORTON, VA – The Big Train’s offense continued rolling in Monday night’s 11-5 victory over the Metro SOCO Braves. The squad has now posted 71 runs in their last five games, all victories, by far the highest run mark in the Cal Ripken Sr. League across that stretch. Home runs from both Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic) and Carter Cunningham (East Carolina) keyed Bethesda’s triumph.
In what was his first official day with the team, Cunningham demolished a fastball to deep center for a two-run home run in the eighth inning. The first baseman was excited about his successful debut in Green and White. “Today was my first day, guys are cool,” said Cunningham. “I'm not here for a long time, but I'm here for a good time, so it's been fun so far.”
Bethesda’s offense got to work in the top of the first, putting up four quick runs thanks to a sac fly from Jeffery Heard (Sacramento State), an RBI single from Jacob Orr (Maryland) and a wild pitch. For the fourth run of the inning, John Long (North Carolina) and Dean Toigo (Cyprus College) executed a cheeky double steal: while attempting to steal second, Long misdirected the Braves defense long enough for Toigo to touch home.
The Braves quickly answered with an RBI single in the bottom half off Big Train starter Jack Hostetler (Whitman). But with runners on first and second, Hostetler got a clutch called strikeout to prevent Metro SOCO from inflicting further damage.
After the Braves scored another run in the second, the Big Train responded in the third, fourth, and fifth innings with runs from Orr, Clay Wargo (Louisiana Lafayette), and Connor Rasmussen (East Carolina), on top of Phelps’ solo homer. Orr finished with an impressive three hits, two walks, and three runs scored in the game.
While the Big Train kept adding runs, the Braves refused to fold, scoring a run in the fifth and two in the sixth to decrease the deficit to three, keeping the game in reach for the home team. But Cunnighman’s two-run blast in the eighth, along with a Dixon Williams’ (East Carolina) RBI single in the ninth, put any comeback out of reach.
Hostetler made his Big Train debut on the mound, yielding two runs on only five hits and three strikeouts through four innings. Darin Kuskie (South Carolina-Upstate), also making his debut,and Joe Bladel (Maryland) handled the other five innings for the Green and White. Across three innings of work, Bladel only allowed one Braves hit, which squelched any potential rally by the home team.
The Big Train’s offensive stars of the night understood the vagaries of baseball required them to stay focused to earn the win.
“In baseball, anything can happen,” said Cunningham. “No lead is safe so you [can’t] give away ABs the entire game. And I thought the guys did a good job with that tonight. There was a little lull in the middle of the innings, but towards the end of the game, we got back to our approach and just kept adding on runs.”
Bethesda looks to rack up its sixth win in a row against their rival the Aces at Frank Mann Field in Alexandria on Thursday, June 16 at 6:30 p.m.
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