An early offensive outburst coupled with 6 1/3 strong innings from starter Chris Monaco (Virginia Tech) helped Big Train defeat the division rival Vienna River Dogs at Povich Field Monday night.
Bethesda wasted no time at the plate, loading the bases on an error and two walks to open the bottom of the first. Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) then lined an opposite field single into right, scoring two and giving Big Train a 2-0 lead with no outs in the first. Harrison Crawford (Creighton) followed this with a double down the right field line, scoring Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s, Calif.) and pushing Lewis to third. Tim Yandel’s (Tulane) groundout to second scored Lewis, and Bethesda led 4-0 after the first.
Monaco got into a jam in the second, as Vienna had men on first and third with two out. A grounder up the middle looked like it would get Bethesda out of the inning, but second baseman Andrew Bechtold (Maryland) couldn’t field it cleanly, and the runner scored from third on the error.
Big Train got the run right back in the bottom of the second, though, as Ryne Willard (North Carolina State) doubled with two out, stole third, and scored on a wild pitch. This would end up to be the last time Bethesda would score, but a solid combined effort from the team’s pitching staff made these five runs hold up.
After allowing the unearned run in the second, Monaco cruised, scattering six hits through six innings while striking out five. He struggled in the seventh, though, as he allowed three straight singles to load the bases with one out. Pitching carefully to the league’s top hitter, Nate Lowe, Monaco walked in a run, spelling the end of his night. Blake Smith (Mississippi State) came on and promptly walked in another run, cutting the Vienna deficit to 5-3. He settled down, however, retiring the next two hitters on a strikeout and a groundout, respectively, to end the inning and preserve Bethesda’s lead. Monaco’s final line was 3 runs (2 earned) on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings; a solid start that would end up netting him his second win of the season.
Tyler Tobin (George Mason) retired the side in order in the eighth, and Walker Sheller (Stetson) picked up his second save of the season after closing out the victory in the top of the ninth.
With this win, Big Train improved to 27-9 on the season, maintaining a one-game advantage over the North-leading Baltimore Redbirds for the league’s best record.
Notes: Willard had two hits for the second straight night, and is 10 for 22 (.454) with five doubles over the past five games…Lewis drove in two runs, and leads the league with 33 RBI; he has now hit safely in each of the last ten games…Bethesda won the season series against Vienna, 4-1…Big Train will take on the Aces tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Alexandria…they return home Friday to face the Aces at 7:30 p.m. in the final game of the regular season.
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