Tim Yandel (Tulane) hit a two-run homer in the top of the tenth as Big Train went on to beat the Aces, 7-4, in ten innings on the road Tuesday night.
After solid bullpen performances from both teams, the Aces and Big Train were tied at four apiece heading into extras. But Bethesda broke through in the tenth, scoring three off of Alexandria’s Michael Torres to win their sixth straight game.
As has been the case often during their current winning streak, Big Train struck early, scoring three in the first. With the bases loaded and Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) at the plate, Aces starter Griffin Harms uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Cody Brown (Mississippi State) to score from third. Lewis then walked to load the bases again, and after a pop out, Yandel drew a walk to force home another run. Matt Toscano (St. Mary’s, Calif.) drove in Big Train’s third run of the inning on a fielder’s choice.
After two solid innings to open the game, Bethesda starter Alex Calvert (South Carolina) got into trouble in the third, walking the bases loaded. After giving up two runs, he was pulled in favor of Walker Sheller (Stetson), who allowed two of the inherited runners score on wild pitches. He got the third out of the inning on a strikeout to limit the damage, but Big Train now trailed 4-3.
Bethesda got the run right back in the fourth, however, after Toscano doubled to open the inning, advanced to third on a Brandon Hunley (Sacramento State) single, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Nick Feight (UNC Wilmington). The next two batters failed to advance Hunley, and he was stranded to end the inning with score tied 4-4.
Big Train’s bullpen was dominant for the rest of the game, shutting down the Aces offense after their four-run third. Sheller pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth, allowing just one hit. Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s, Calif.) pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, and Mike Rescigno (Maryland) pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth.
In the top of the ninth, Bethesda had a chance to take the lead, as they loaded the bases with one away for Lewis, the league’s top RBI man. He grounded into a double play, however, and the game headed to the bottom of the ninth, still tied.
Josh Thorne (Stetson) came on and worked around a hit batsman, a single, and a walk, to retire the side and send the game to extra innings.
Harrison Crawford (Creighton) led off the tenth with a triple on the first pitch he saw, bringing up Yandel, already a late-innings hero on multiple occasions this season. He came through again, lifting a 1-0 pitch over the fence to give Big Train a 6-4 lead. They added an insurance run later in the inning on a bases-loaded squeeze play by Logan Farrar (Virginia Commonwealth).
Miller Trevvett (Radford) worked around a one-out double to retire the side in the bottom of the tenth to preserve the victory.
With the victory, Big Train improved to 28-9 on the season, and they are now 1 ½ games ahead of the Baltimore Redbirds for the Cal Ripken League’s best record.
Notes: Ryne Willard (North Carolina State) went 1-for-3 to improve his hitting streak to 6 games…Yandel had three RBI and is tied with Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s, Calif.) for fourth in the league with 22 RBI…Big Train continues their road swing Wednesday against the D.C. Grays at 7 p.m…they return home Friday to face the Aces in the last game of the season.
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