Tasked with beating the team with the best record in the league, the Big Train met the challenge in a big way, breaking out for ten runs against the Aces for their eighth straight win.
The Aces came into the game at 20-3 and on a seven-game winning streak of their own. The Big Train, having also defeated the Aces on June 22, are now responsible for half of their losses. With the victory, the Big Train move to within half a game of the South division lead.
“Any time you face the first place team in the league, you have a little bit more of an incentive to come out and play hard, and that’s what we’ve done,” center fielder Zach Jancarski (Maryland) said.
Facing the statistical leaders in team ERA, the Big Train offense flexed its considerable muscle to get the better of the Aces pitching staff. Every starter reached base at least once, and they combined for 15 total hits. Garret Kueber (Austin Peay State), Justin Morris (Maryland), and Jancarski led the way with two RBIs apiece. With four other batters also driving in runs, the offensive showing was truly a team effort.
“There were a lot of different guys today, not just me, who really stepped up,” Jancarski said. “It’s always good to have a good day for yourself, but at the same time, winning is the most important thing, and when there are a lot of guys who are having a good day, it makes it that much better.”
“I told the guys, what was really impressive were the two-out hits,” manager Sal Colangelo said. “They got runners in scoring position with two outs and guys came through, had great at-bats and great approaches.”
Starter Ty Madrigal (St. Mary’s) was magical, mowing down the dangerous Aces lineup with six shutout innings. He needed only 83 pitches to notch eight strikeouts, and allowed just four hits.
“I tried to get ahead in the count, had a game plan,” Madrigal said. “Mike [Emodi] and me were out there and it worked.”
“I’m glad he’s on our team,” Colangelo said. “Ty was lights out. He had command, he knew what to throw when he needed to throw it, and just pounded the zone and did a great job.”
Though the score was lopsided, the game featured its fair share of drama. Aces manager David DeSilva was tossed for arguing a safe call at third base in the top of the ninth, after having been warned over a similar earlier play. The game’s electric atmosphere speaks to the significance of the contest and the competitive nature of the teams.
“[The Aces] are a pretty good team and we know that we’re going to get their best every time we come out, so we do our best to give them our best,” Jancarski said.
A victory like Monday night’s only reinforces the Big Train’s confidence going forward. When asked about facing a strong offensive team, Colangelo emphatically replied that “the Big Train is the league’s best offense.”
After this game, it is hard to argue with that.
The Big Train are off for the July 4th holiday and will be back in action on Wednesday against the Redbirds in Baltimore. The first pitch at Calvert Hall is at 7 pm.
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