Waldorf, MD – Head Coach Sal Colangelo captured his 500th regular season win with the Big Train in the team’s 5-3 road victory over the Southern Maryland Senators on Wednesday night. Serving as Bethesda’s skipper since 2005, this milestone further cements Colangelo as the most successful coach in team history. Under his tenure, Colangelo has led the Big Train to nine league titles and 14 championship series.
The head coach was quick to shout out the people that contributed to his achievement. “It’s more for the organization,” said Colangelo. “To me, I’m just writing a lineup and trying to educate and coach. But those 500 wins go to the players over the last 24 years…and the [college] coaches that send me great people.”
“Sal’s the man,” said infielder Lucas Phelps (Florida Atlantic). “We all love Sal, so it’s a tribute to him.”
Ryan Ertlschweiger (James Madison) got the start for Bethesda, yielding two hits, four walks, and spinning five strikeouts across four innings. He struggled in the first half of his outing but managed to recenter as the game went on. On the other side, Wyatt Bunch allowed six hits and four runs in four innings and was charged with the loss for Southern Maryland.
The Senators scored first, putting up one run in the bottom of the first inning, with Jae Williams touching home on a Luke Gaffney groundout. Bethesda challenged with runners in scoring position in the second, but Wyatt Bunch delivered a strikeout to protect Southern Maryland’s narrow early lead.
Ty Stecko added another run for the home team in the bottom of the second, reaching home off Sam Griffith’s sacrifice fly to center. But with two Senators runners still on base, Ertlschweiger got a big inning-ending strikeout of his own to prevent further scoring.
Bethesda’s offense backed up Ertlschweiger in the third, equalizing with two runs. Dixon Williams (East Carolina) kicked it off with a single before scoring on Lucas Phelps’ RBI double off the left field wall. Carter Cunningham (East Carolina) followed with an RBI single to drive in Phelps.
The Big Train surged ahead in the fifth, scoring two to take their first lead of the game. The one-two punch of Williams and Phelps struck again, with Phelps recording another RBI double to score Williams. This time Jeffery Heard (Sacramento State) got in on the action, slapping an RBI single to knock in Phelps.
Zeb Ruddell (Louisiana State) tacked on another run for Bethesda in the sixth, scoring off of a Clay Wargo (Louisiana Lafayette) RBI single.
Ruddell and Wargo connected again in the seventh, this time on the defensive end, as Ruddell snagged a fly ball in center field and slung it to the catcher, Wargo, to keep a threatening Senators runner parked at third, maintaining the Big Train’s advantage.
Ertlschweiger’s Dukes teammate Kevin Scully (James Madison) relieved the starting pitcher, retiring six out of the first seven batters he faced and finishing with five strikeouts in two innings pitched. However, Scully ran into some control problems in the seventh when he walked the first two hitters he faced. Skyler Hutto (Alabama) came in and allowed a hit to the first batter he faced but closed out the rest of the game. He struck out seven over three innings and struck out the side in the ninth.
Hitting the ball on the ground keyed Bethesda’s offensive success in this game, with all of the team’s runs stemming from base hits. In total, six different Big Train players combined for ten hits. But Phelps led the way for the Green and White, finishing 2-5 with two doubles, two RBIs, and two runs scored.
Phelps cited Coach Colangelo as a major influence for his successful performance in the batter’s box. “[Coach Sal tells us to] relax and go have fun. Remembering that this is just a game really helps.”
The Big Train travel back to Shirley Povich Field for a three-day homestand, beginning with a doubleheader against the D.C. Grays on Thursday, June 29, with game one scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and game two scheduled for 7 p.m.
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