With only a few days left in the regular season, one could be forgiven for expecting some signs of fatigue from the Bethesda Big Train. The Big Train proved Tuesday night that nothing could be farther from the truth, taking both games of the doubleheader against the Alexandria Aces in convincing fashion and clinching first place in the South Division.
Bethesda emerged victorious in Game 1 thanks to a grand slam in the top of the 7th and final inning by left fielder Vinny Esposito (Sacramento St.), breaking the tie in the eventual 6-2 win. After the first two Big Train batters were retired, Logan Farrar (VCU) reached on an error by the Aces first baseman. A single by Clayton Daniel (Jacksonville St.) and a walk from Allen Smoot (San Francisco) loaded the bases, setting the stage for Esposito’s heroics. The homer was Esposito’s team-leading 5th of the season.
The Big Train got on the board first, striking for two runs in the 2nd. Esposito led off with a single to center field and was promptly driven home by a two-run home run off the bat of Cody Brown (Miss. St.), his second of the year. The Aces continued undeterred, scoring in the 4th and the 6th to knot the game at 2-2. But Esposito’s shot would thwart the Aces’ comeback hopes and secure first place in the division for the Big Train.
Starting pitcher Logan Gilbert (Stetson) had another stellar outing, surrendering only 2 runs on 2 hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out 6. The win, however, would go to sidearmer Stephen Schoch (Appalachian St.), who shut out the Aces for the remaining 1 1/3 innings of the game.
The Big Train’s burst of offensive firepower seemed to rattle the Aces, and more than carried over into Game 2. Bethesda dominated in every facet of the game in the second half of the doubleheader, scoring at least once in every inning and winning by a score of 13-0.
Early in the game, the Big Train used patience instead of power to rack up the runs. Two bases-loaded walks by Esposito and Brown put the Big Train up 2-0 in the 1st, before Mike Emodi (Creighton) broke the game open with a two-run single. Bethesda would score a total of 5 runs in the inning and never looked back. The highlight of the remainder of the game came off the bat of Cam Daugherty (Bowling Green), who hit a solo homer in the 4th inning, his first of the year, to push the Big Train lead to double digits.
Equally impressive as the Big Train’s offensive explosion was the quiet dominance of starter John Murphy (Maryland). Murphy pitched to contact with great effectiveness, shutting out the Aces for 5 innings. The right-hander gave up only three hits and a walk while striking out two, moving to 4-2 on the year with the win.
The Big Train will return to action on Wednesday night as they face off against the Silver Spring-Tacoma Thunderbolts. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
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