Box Score: L, 7-8
The Big Train seem to be getting closer and closer to their first win, but came up just short last night as they lost in extra innings to the Southern Maryland Nationals.
Despite three scoring three runs in the first two innings, the team fell behind early for the second night in a row as Eric Martin (Tennessee) gave up four runs (only one earned) in the second inning. However, much like last night, as their starting pitcher settled, the Big Train bats stormed back to erase the deficit.
Martin settled down and threw five consecutive innings with no walks or runs. Not withstanding the rough second inning, Martin threw six scoreless of two-hit baseball, and had seemingly impeccable command as he struck out seven over his seven innings of work.
Still down 4-3 after six innings, the Big Train scored two runs in each of the next two innings to go up 7-4 by the middle of the eighth. In the seventh, Tuck Tobin (George Mason) was able to reach on a two-base error by the right-fielder and then score on a Tyler Thomas (Shepherd) single. Thomas later tagged and scored from third on a sacrifice fly. In the eighth, Brendan Hendriks (San Francisco) and Tobin both scored on an error by the third baseman.
Unfortunately, the Big Train could not hold their lead. Big Train manager Sal Colangelo had to pull Martin after 106 pitches and the bullpen surrendered the three runs that the Nationals needed to send the game to extra innings. Once in extras, Nationals were able to win on a passed ball and escape the three-time defending champs.
The 0-2 start should not be worrisome as the Big Train rotation will surely improve soon with the return of star pitchers Mike Kent (Clemson) and Kelly Secrest (UNC - Wilmington).
Some of the bats look very promising so far. Brendan Hendriks now has a .750 slugging percentage on the year with two triples and a home run. Look for Hendriks to become a cornerstone of this offense if this production continues.
Look for the Big Train to build on that performance in tomorrow's home opener against the Rockville Express at Shirley Povich Field.