The Bethesda Big Train claimed two victories Friday, including one in walk off fashion, against the top team in the north division, the Baltimore Redbirds.
With the sweep, Bethesda clinches a spot in the Cal Ripken League playoffs and pulls even with the Redbirds for best record in the league.
“These wins get our confidence going,” said Justin Morris (Maryland) who totaled five hits and two RBIs in both games. “Getting a tight win against the Redbirds brings everyone closer together as a team."
Game one picked up in the bottom of the fourth inning with one out and the score knotted up at one.
In the seventh inning, Bethesda exploded to take the lead. They took advantage of a mistake-filled inning for the Redbirds. Garrett Kueber (Moorpark) and Allen Smoot (San Francisco) both reached on walks and Michael Emodi (Creighton) took a pitch to the shoulder to load the bases. Cody Brown (Miss St.) hit a grounder to center field, pushing across two runs. Morris then laced a two-RBI single to left, giving the Big Train a 5-1 lead.
Their crucial seventh inning pushed Bethesda to a game one victory.
Brown impressed offensively, going 1-3 with a walk, a run and two RBIs.
Johnny York (St. Mary) held the Redbirds scoreless in his six innings of work. He earned his fourth win of the season and remained undefeated. The senior only allowed four hits in the victory.
Game two was a dramatic, extra inning affair.
The Big Train fell behind early. Baltimore notched one run in the top of the first inning off a Bethesda error.
However, the Big Train responded in the bottom of the inning. Logan Farrar (VCU) and Clayton Daniel found themselves on second and third with one out. Vinny Esposito (Sac St.) brought them both home with a single to right, giving Bethesda a 2-1 lead earlyin the game.
The Redbirds fought back, tying the game in the top of the third.
Daniel continued to make his presence known offensively, breaking the tie in the fourth inning. He knocked a RBI single through the gap in right, bringing home Morris.
Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s) pitched a typical gem of a game. After the third inning, he allowed only one hit on the night. The California native went seven innings, allowing one earned run on four hits with four strikeouts.
The Redbirds would rally in the ninth inning. They loaded the bases with no outs. Bethesda minimized the damage, only allowing one run. More would have been scored if it had not been for a marvelous defensive play by right-fielder Cody Brown. He made a diving catch in shallow right, then immediately threw the ball to Emodi, freezing the runners.
In the top of the 10th, Baltimore was threatening with a man on third and one out. Stephen Schoch (Appalachian St.) got out of the jam unscathed after forcing two brilliant groundouts.
The Big Train needed a hero in the bottom of the 11th inning with the bases loaded and Morris delivered.
He saw the pitch get away from the Baltimore catcher and sprinted home for the walk off.
“I kept anticipating the ball in the dirt,” Morris said. “When it happened I took off and forced it to happen.”
Starting pitching played a crucial role in both wins. The pair of all-star St. Mary’s pitchers gave up only one earned run over 13 innings.
“All we want is a chance to win with whoever we put on the mound,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “The goal is to get to the other teams bullpen. Once we get to them we like our chances of winning."
The Big Train return to action tomorrow in Alexandria to take on the Aces. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
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