Drew Strotman enters Saturday's conclusion of Game 1, picking up the loss in a 3-2 15 inning showdown with the rival Baltimore Redbirds. (Photo by Lisa A. Kammerman/Big Train Photos)
After 14 innings and four and a half hours of baseball Friday night, it took just one inning and 18 minutes to settle Game 1 of the League Championship Series Saturday.
Picking things up in the top of the 15th inning – despite resuming play in Bethesda, Baltimore would remain the home team for Game 1 – Chris Lewis led things off against Redbirds ace Emerson Gibbs with a single through the hole on the right. After a Brandon Gum (George Mason) walk, Bethesda threatened with runners on first and second. Gibbs forced a fly out and ground ball back the mound to end the threat, stranding the Big Train’s fifteenth runner on base.
In the bottom half, Nic Perkins greeted Bethesda starter Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s, Calif.) with a double grounded down the left field line and, after Mac Caples dropped down a pristine bunt, runners were on the corners. Caples – the Cal Ripken League’s Offensive Player of the Week – stole second, but the right-hander responded striking out Martin Costes for the first out. After intentionally walking the nine-hitter to load the bases, Bethesda stayed at double-play depth up the middle looking to force and inning-ending twin killing.
The Big Train got the groundball they wanted, but Redbirds leadoff man Stuart Fairchild beat out a wide throw to first sealing a Game 1 victory for the three-time defending champions.
Gibbs, the only pitcher to register multiple wins in the 2015 playoffs, will get the start in Game 2. He will be opposed by Big Train left-hander Luis Collazo (Virginia Tech). Game 2 will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Shirley Povich Field. If Bethesda evens the series, the rubber match will be played Sunday, also in Bethesda.