After clinching the number one overall seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, the Big Train fell to Alexandria on Fan Appreciation Night, Friday.
Double plays proved costly for Bethesda, hitting into three on the evening in the second, fourth, and sixth innings. The home team scored their lone run of the night in the first inning on a Logan Farrar leadoff double and botched fly ball; they would not record an RBI on the night.
Despite trading first inning runs with the Aces, the Big Train didn’t have multiple runners on base simultaneously until the sixth inning.
After working a full count walk, Matt Toscano (St. Mary’s, Calif.) took a good-sized lead off first as his college teammate Zach Kirtley (St. Mary’s, Calif.) dug into the box.
The all-star shortstop laced the second pitch he saw to right center for a single, bringing Toscano around to third with one out. Residing in his usual clean up spot, Chris Lewis (Sacramento State) drilled a ball back up the middle that looked destined to eat up Aces reliever William Lescher.
In total self-preservation mode, Lescher flashed his leather snagging the liner out of the air inches from his torso. Kirtley was doubled off first, and the rally was quieted.
The Big Train managed only six runners in scoring position on the night, two coming in the first inning. In the second inning – the only inning in which Bethesda managed multiple hits – a Maryland Terrapin-duo nearly provided the offensive spark needed to break open an otherwise defensive game.
Justin Morris (Maryland) lead off the inning with a single, but was cut down on the next pitch by a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Brandon Hunley (Sacramento State). The ground ball proved costly, as Andrew Bechtold (Maryland) followed with a single and a stolen base.
In the game’s final seven frames, Bethesda would tally just three hits. The Alexandria bullpen logged four innings of work after starter Wade McNabb was pulled, giving up just two hits and striking out four.
A flurry of relievers exited the pen – five in total – in relief of starter Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s, Calif.) who left after the second inning. Brock Larson (San Francisco) put in his best work of the season throwing three innings of one-hit ball.
The Aces staff spread out six hits between six separate Big Train hitters.
For more information, check out Kyle Brown's full rundown of the Cal Ripken League playoffs.
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