Big Train Hangs on to Beat the Herndon Braves 8-6

Michael Smith (George Mason) digs in at Herndon HS.

After an explosive 13-1 win in their season opener against the DC Grays, Bethesda Big Train continued their winning ways with an 8-6 victory over the Herndon Braves in their second regular season game of the year.

Though Big Train starting pitcher John Murphy (University of Maryland) got the win, he had a rocky start. In his first inning of work, Murphy allowed 2 runs on a hit, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a couple of wild pitches. These runs capped off a frustrating first frame for the Big Train, who loaded the bases on a single by Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State University) and walks to Cameron Daugherty (Bowling Green State University) and Justin Morris (University of Maryland), but stranded all three runners in the top of the first. Murphy also allowed 2 runs in the 4th inning, and left the game after 6 innings with 5 hits, 3 walks, and 3 earned runs allowed.

However, Murphy’s pitching line belies his overall performance, which, other than the two innings mentioned above, was dominant. In the second and third innings, Murphy retired the side in order, only allowed one runner to reach base in the fifth, and did not allow a hit in the sixth. When asked about the difference between the innings where he allowed runs and the innings where he kept the Braves scoreless, Murphy stressed the importance of staying in the strike zone.

“Just throwing strikes. That’s been the biggest thing for me today,” Murphy said. “It’s the most that I’ve pitched in a long time, so I just need to get back into my groove. Keep throwing the ball over the plate a little bit more.”

Manager Sal Colangelo lauded Murphy’s performance, calling him “lights out” and “phenomenal” and attributing the runs charged to Murphy to “mental mistakes [by the defense], and being on the road for the first time.” He also stressed the need for all his pitchers to stay mentally prepared, stating that sometimes nerves “get the best of you,” but that he believes all his players are “mentally tough and ready to go.”

Blaine Lafin (Virginia Military Institute) was excellent in relief of Murphy, throwing 2 innings of 1 hit ball and striking out 3. Stephen Schoch (Appalachian State University), however, turned in a mixed performance in the bottom of the ninth. After striking out two of the first three batters he faced, Schoch allowed a two-run home run to the Braves’ Andy Mocahbee (Middle Georgia State University), then allowed singles to the next two Braves hitters. With the score at 8-6 and the tying run on base, Mack Meyer (University of San Francisco) came in and got Braves designated hitter Zach Barron (Georgia Southwestern State) to ground out to third for the last out of the game, notching his first save of the season.

Big Train’s offense also shined in the 8-6 victory, with every player contributing. Everyone in the lineup reached base at least once, even Matthew Herzog (Louisburg College), a pitcher filling in at designated hitter due to Big Train’s lack of position players as they wait for participants in the College World Series playoffs to arrive. Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville State University), Allen Smoot (University of San Francisco), Michael Smith (George Mason University), and Peyton Sorrels (University of Maryland) each had one hit, and Justin Morris (University of Maryland) checked in with two doubles. The second of those two doubles drove in three runs, which proved to be invaluable in light of Mocahbee’s homer in the bottom of the ninth.

“I wasn’t trying to do anything different,” Morris said of the hit, “I was just up there looking for a pitch to hit and luckily I put a good swing on it. …. It felt good to give us a little breathing room right there.”

The most impressive feat of the night, however, was perhaps the unity already clearly present in the Big Train dugout after only two games. This can be seen in both the shouts of support yelled from the dugout during the game and in the words of players and coaches.

 “You have different types of abilities, types of philosophies, different types of styles from all over the country,” Colangelo said, “and this team already, within two games, has come together as a family, with a style we like to play.”

Big Train’s next game is Thursday, at home, against the Vienna River Dogs. First pitch is at 7:30 PM.  First 500 fans recieve an Opending Day T-Shirt.

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